June 15, 2017 / 12:46 PM / a month ago

UK will pay for Roche breast cancer drug at centre of price row

2 Min Read

LONDON, June 15 (Reuters) - A Roche breast cancer drug at the centre of a prolonged pricing row in Britain will now be paid for routinely, following a discount deal between the company and the National Health Service, the country's cost watchdog said on Thursday.

Kadcyla, which can prolong the lives of some women with advanced disease, has been a battle-ground for campaigners wanting better access to modern cancer drugs, with 115,000 people signing a petition demanding its availability.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) said it could now recommend funding for Kadcyla, following the new commercial access arrangement with Roche. Details of the discount offer were not disclosed.

At its full list price, Kadcyla costs about 90,000 pounds ($115,000) per patient, according to NICE, although Roche says this figure is exaggerated because the drug is typically given for shorter periods than NICE assumes.

Until now, the drug has only been covered by the Cancer Drugs Fund, which finances drugs not routinely paid for on the NHS. With the medicine moving to routine use, NICE estimates around 1,200 women could now be eligible to receive it.

Roche, the world's biggest supplier of cancer medicines, has expressed frustration in the past at the rigid system used in Britain to determine value for money in cancer care, with CEO Severin Schwan describing the system as "stupid" in 2015.

Industry critics, however, argue that medicine prices are rising far faster than inflation, especially in cancer treatment, and returns demanded by the industry on newly launched products are unsustainable. (Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Adrian Croft)

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