When the cost effectiveness watchdogs at NICE reviewed Sanofi's blockbuster hopeful Dupixent earlier this year, they concluded that the drug was an advance for atopic dermatitis patients, but too expensive to justify for coverage. Now, they've given the Sanofi med a blessing contingent on a confidential discount.
In a final appraisal, NICE recommended Dupixent after patients with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis fail on at least one other systemic therapy. The drug is "very effective when used in this way," according to NICE, and can be considered cost-effective.
The deal is contingent on a "commercial arrangement" between Sanofi and NICE and an agreement that patients are to stop taking the drug at 16 weeks if they haven't adequately responded, the agency determined.
Sanofi Genzyme's general manager of the United Kingdom & Ireland, Peter Kuiper, said in a statement that he has seen the difference the drug can make for patients with atopic dermatitis .
"Seeing first-hand the difference that dupilumab can make to patients' lives has given us the drive and determination to ensure it becomes available to those who need it as quickly as possible," he said.
The disease affects about 1.5 million people in the U.K., according to NICE.
The decision comes at an important time for Sanofi. The company's big diabetes business is under competitive assault, with sales dropping sharply in the U.S. last year. The Dupixent launch is crucial for Sanofi to offset declines elsewhere in its business. Dengue vaccine Dengvaxia has also faltered, generating just €3 million last year.
NICE's decision also carries importance because the agency's decisions often influence those from cost-effectiveness watchdogs in other countries.
Sanofi and partner Regeneron launched Dupixent in the U.S. in March 2017 and in Germany in December. In the first quarter of 2018, Sanofi launched the drug in the Netherlands, Canada and Denmark.
The drug hauled in €219 million last year, and its sales grew to €107 million in the first quarter of 2018.