NICE backs Xolair again, thanks to Novartis discount

The U.K.'s cost-effectiveness experts have changed their mind on Xolair--again. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence threatened to pull its recommendation for the asthma drug last November. But a discount from Novartis ($NVS) and some new data not only reversed that threat--it inspired NICE to expand its recommendation to children under 12.

NICE initially approved Xolair in 2007. But after some safety questions surfaced--and a new dosing schedule raised its cost--the agency said it would withdraw that support.

Novartis came back with new data analyses and an undisclosed discount. Both helped change NICE's mind, not only on withdrawing its recommendation altogether, but on a previous decision against Xolair's use in younger children.

Now, the Swiss drugmaker will cover part of the cost of Xolair treatment, which can range widely, depending upon the severity of a patient's condition and the dose required. The drug's annual tab, pre-discount, was £1,665 to £26,640, or about $2,500 to $40,140, PM Live reports. The drug will also be recommended for patients as young as 6 years.

- read the release from NICE
- see the PM Live story
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