J&J discount offer wins NICE over to new use for Stelara

Johnson & Johnson has done some quick bargaining with the U.K.'s cost-effectiveness watchdogs. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) decided to reverse course on a new use for J&J's anti-inflammatory drug Stelara, thanks to a new discount offer.

NICE had stiff-armed Stelara (ustekinumab) as a treatment for psoriatic arthritis in May. The agency said that the drug was too pricey for its benefits, given other drugs available for the same disease, including J&J's ($JNJ) Simponi and Remicade, plus AbbVie's ($ABBV) Humira and Pfizer's ($PFE) Enbrel, PMLiVE reports.

But the agency says it has changed its mind, crediting a "patient access scheme" proposed by J&J's Janssen division, which markets the drug. The about-face isn't complete; NICE will only recommend Stelara for patients unable to use the other drugs or those who've tried at least one of them already. 

"NICE's decision supports Janssen's view that ustekinumab offers value to the NHS as well as being clinically valuable," said Janssen's U.K. medical director, Peter Barnes (as quoted by PMLiVE).

Stelara was already NICE-approved to treat plaque psoriasis. It's expected to hit $1.4 billion in global sales by 2015, despite a raft of new or soon-to-be-approved competitors in that market. Celgene's ($CELG) Otezla (apremalist) won approval in September for plaque psoriasis, and was already approved for psoriatic arthritis. Eli Lilly ($LLY), Novartis ($NVS), Amgen ($AMGN), AstraZeneca ($AZN), Merck ($MRK)--plus J&J--are working on their own next-gen psoriasis hopefuls.

- see the PMLiVE story

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