Avastin tops list of most-requested cancer meds in U.K.

When U.K. doctors request special funding for cancer drugs, which product do they request most often? That would be Roche's ($RHHBY) Avastin, hands down. Of the more than 10,000 petitions to the cancer drugs fund from April 2011 to March 2012, almost 25% were for Avastin.

As PM Live points out, the special cancer fund provides £200 million ($317 million) per year to cover oncology treatments that don't have the backing of cost-effectiveness watchdogs. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has repeatedly rejected Avastin in a variety of cancers, so doctors who want the drug often must ask for special coverage.

In fact, requests for Avastin outdid the records of the second- and third-most-requested drugs, combined. Merck KGaA's Erbitux accounted for 11.9% of the requests, with Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) Zytiga right on its heels with 11.8%, according to figures provided by the National Health Service's National Cancer Action Team.

J&J's Zytiga may not remain on this most-requested list for long, however. NICE recently recommended the prostate cancer treatment for routine use by the NHS, no special funding necessary.

Also among the most sought-after drugs were Roche's MabThera, known as Rituxan in the U.S.; GlaxoSmithKline's ($GSK) Tyverb; and Novartis' ($NVS) Afinitor. All three accounted for at least 5% of the funding requests.

- read the PM Live story

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