NICE snubs Pfizer's Inlyta kidney cancer drug

Pfizer ($PFE) has run into the U.K. watchdog wall of resistance to targeted cancer drugs with its renal cancer treatment Inlyta.

The drugmaker was seeking approval for use in patients with advanced kidney cancer who were not helped by the cytokines, like Pfizer's own Sutent. But, as Bloomberg pointed out, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, (NICE) was unimpressed because Pfizer didn't provide data comparing Inlyta with the most common treatments but with a drug that NICE has not approved. In its statement, NICE said, "clinical experts informed the independent Appraisal Committee that the use of cytokines is decreasing in clinical practice." The agency said there was not enough evidence that it would work better and be cost-effective compared with current treatments.

While not a blockbuster, the drug represents at least a partial response to the loss of the Lipitor franchise. The cancer drug is approved in the U.S. and European Union for the same use but with tight federal budgets, national health payers in Europe have been less ready to approve new drugs with big price tags. NICE said a pack of 56 5-milligram Inlyta tablets costs £3,517 ($5,660). Pfizer, like other drugmakers trying to get new meds approved, offered an undisclosed discount.

Other cancer meds have also run into the same kind of reluctance from NICE. Zelboraf from Roche ($RHHBY) and Yervoy (ipilimumab) from Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY), treatments for deadly skin cancers, were both initially rejected by NICE before returning with new data and finally winning affirmative recommendations in September.

- read the Bloomberg story
- here's the NICE release