Lundbeck strikes positive note with NICE nod for alcoholism med Selincro

Here's some good news for Lundbeck in an otherwise bleak week: The U.K.'s cost watchdog has endorsed its alcohol-dependence treatment, Selincro.

NICE's Carole Longson

Just two days after the Danish company's CEO stepped down for an ethics lapse, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) gave Selincro (namelfene) a thumbs up in final draft guidance, meaning the country's National Health Service will make funding available for the £42.42-per-14-tablet-pack med within three months.

"We are pleased to be able to recommend the use of namelfene to support people further in their efforts to fight alcohol dependence," NICE Health Technology Evaluation Centre Director Carole Longson said in a statement. "When used alongside psychosocial support nalmefene is clinically and cost effective for the NHS compared with psychosocial support alone."

The latest reimbursement decision should reach about 600,000 alcohol-addicted individuals in England and Wales, according to Lundbeck partner Biotie Therapies, and it follows similar decisions from countries like France and Spain. Since the drug won European approval last February, Lundbeck has rolled it out in "well over 20" markets on the continent, Biotie CEO Timo Veromaa said in a statement.

Former Lundbeck CEO Ulf Wiinberg

But forthcoming launches could be in jeopardy thanks to change at the top. Departed skipper Ulf Wiinberg took with him a successful launch track record that's helped keep the company afloat since generics took down blockbuster antidepressant Lexapro--and the know-how to keep that going with anticipated approvals on the horizon. "The timing is really bad for Lundbeck," Sydbank analyst Soren Lontoft told Reuters on Monday.

- read NICE's release
- see Biotie's statement

Special Reports: Top 15 Drug Launch Superstars | The 25 most influential people in biopharma today - 2013 - Carole Longson - NICE