Germany's cost watchdog decides Valeant's Provenge has added benefit after all

In January, Germany's cost watchdog decided that Dendreon's--now Valeant's--Provenge had no added benefit for men with metastatic prostate cancer. But now, it's changing its tune.

After reviewing some new data from Dendreon, Germany's Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG) has reversed its conclusion in an addendum, saying the drug does have an indication of added benefit.

However, the institute said in a statement that the added benefit can't be quantified. The G-BA, or the Federal Joint Committee--of physicians, dentists, hospitals and health insurance funds in Germany--will use the dossier compiled by IQWiG in its assessment of Provenge to make a final decision on the extent of this added benefit. The G-BA has the final word on pricing for the vaccine.

Meanwhile, Provenge has already been rejected by the U.K.'s cost watchdog in October 2014 and then in January this year. The gatekeeper deemed the vaccine too expensive for any benefit it may provide.

A high price tag for Provenge is just one of the factors that stymied sales of the vaccine and ultimately drove Dendreon to bankruptcy. But now that the struggling vaccine has been picked up by Valeant, things might yet turn around. The serial acquirer is famous for squeezing out costs, and Dendreon will be no exception. After it wrapped the $400 million buyout, Valeant immediately cut 77 jobs from Dendreon.

CEO J. Michael Pearson says he's confident that Provenge--the first FDA-approved cancer vaccine and Valeant's ($VRX) first venture into oncology--is a "durable asset." Pearson sees Dendreon as an area ripe for cost-cutting, where he plans to extract more than $130 million in synergies--including manufacturing savings.

- here's IQWiG's release

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