Incivo, Victrelis and Mepact win recognition at the 2012 UK Prix Galien Awards.
Two new medicines for the treatment of Hepatitis C have won the 2012 UK Prix Galien Innovative Product
Award. Incivo (Janssen) and Victrelis (MSD) fought of stiff competition to win the prestigious prize at London’s House of Commons. The chairman of the judging panel, Professor Sir Michael Rawlins, said the treatments provided a perfect example of how the pharmaceutical industry can “demonstrate and justify its place in healthcare by innovating for change and showing real gains to the world.”
The ceremony also saw Takeda become only the third winners of a Prix Galien Award for orphan drug development. Mepact – for the treatment of osteosarcoma, a rare malignant bone tumour – won the Orphan Drug Award.
UK Prix Galien 2012
The UK Prix Galien, organised and managed by the specialist market access consultancy WG Consulting – which owns the UK franchise – is held every two years. The 2012 awards were hosted by former shadow Minister for Health Kevin Barron MP, who was the event’s Parliamentary Sponsor. Barron, who is currently co-Chair of the Associate Parliamentary Health Group, said: “It’s a privilege to be able to witness, at first hand, just a glimpse of the deep volumes of medical innovations being developed here in the UK. As an MP, I’ve had a long-standing professional acquaintance with UK pharma. I know and recognise the many
benefits UK medicines have brought – and continue to bring – to patients all over the world. The sector’s continued commitment to the development of medicines to tackle disease, improve health outcomes and extend life is both remarkable and humbling.”
Barron said there was political consensus that driving improvements in health outcomes across all major diseases is a key priority for the NHS – and this focus had been reflected in the 2012 finalists. “It’s interesting to note that the shortlisted entrants for the 2012 UK Prix Galien show that pharmaceutical innovation is aligned with many of the priority needs identified in the NHS Outcomes Framework. Finalists include innovations for the treatment of diseases in cardiovascular, hepatology, mental health, neurology, gastroenterology and oncology. In addition, Prix Galien’s recognition of the industry’s attempts to treat rare, orphan diseases, once again underlines the very human value of R&D.”
The architect of the NHS Outcomes Framework, former Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, also addressed the audience. Attending his fourth consecutive UK Prix Galien, Lansley said: “Every time I come to this event I hear about fascinating innovations that I know are going to be at the heart of the health service for years to come. I’ve met – and continue to meet – patients that have benefited directly from innovations that I’ve previously heard about at Prix Galien. The HPV vaccination programme we have been able to roll out is just one example of that. So it’s a privilege to be here.”
Lansley said that recognising and rewarding innovation is a key Government priority – and that the publication of Innovation Health and Wealth last December was part of a consistent value-based message
it wanted to send to the NHS. “That message is that as you, the pharmaceutical industry, bring forward new treatments that will clearly add value and improve the quality of healthcare for patients then the NHS should be at the forefront, internationally, of demonstrating that value. Our health service can be an exemplar and inspiration to people around the world because of its capacity to demonstrate the effectiveness of new treatments when they are used within the NHS.”
Lansley praised the UK pharma industry, highlighting the value its innovations bring both to the economy and to patients worldwide. “What you are doing is part of how this country will pay its way in the future,” he said. “And it has the added value of knowing that, in the process, we can give patients in this country access to the very best healthcare anywhere in the world.”
The recognition of innovation that can lead to improved health outcomes is a core aim of Prix Galien, as outlined by Professor Sir Michael Rawlins, who announced the winners. “Prix Galien is about honouring excellence in pharmaceutical research and development,” said Professor Sir Michael. “It is about recognising the contribution that new medicines can make to the lives of people with life-threatening conditions. It is about celebrating the achievements of all those individuals – working as teams – upon whom we rely for the discovery and development of new medicines. Most will be unknown to us – but we all owe them a huge debt of gratitude.”
Innovative Product Award
The prestigious Prix Galien medal for innovation was jointly awarded to Janssen and MSD for their respective hepatitis C treatments Incivo and Victrelis. In the UK, it is estimated that there are between 200,000 and 400,000 people chronically infected with hepatitis C virus. This may lead to liver cancer as well as other serious liver diseases. Infection with the hepatitis C virus poses a substantial global health burden, and is responsible for 40% of all cases of end-stage cirrhosis, 60% of hepatocellular carcinoma and 30% of liver transplants.
Professor Sir Michael Rawlins said: “Hepatitis C virus has become an enormous area of need globally, with many patients unaware that they are infected. The consequences of this virus are considerable and burdensome to both patients and the healthcare system; current treatments remain ineffective in a significant number of cases whilst being unpleasant and poorly tolerated by patients themselves.
“Hepatitis C infection is a perfect example of where the pharmaceutical industry can demonstrate and justify its place in healthcare by innovating for change and showing real gains to the world. It is for this reason that the panel felt that both Janssen and MSD should be celebrated and congratulated for their part in addressing the ongoing challenge in managing HCV and its associated complications.”
Brilique (AZ) and Resolor (Shire) both received commendations. Gilenya (Novartis), Xarelto (Bayer), Xeplion (Janssen), Xgeva (Amgen), Yervoy (Bristol-Myers Squibb), Zelboraf (Roche) and Zytiga (Janssen) were all shortlisted.
Orphan Drug Award
The Orphan Drug Award was introduced as a dedicated category at 2008 UK Prix Galien. There had previously been a special award for orphan products in 2006. The term ‘orphan condition’ is used to describe conditions that affect a very small number of patients in a given population – many of which are either untreatable or treated very inadequately. It is estimated that there are 6,000 orphan diseases – which, in total, affect about 30 million EU citizens.
“For orphan diseases that are potentially treatable with medicines, pharmaceutical manufacturers face a number of hurdles – including concerns about the size of the market and difficulties because of the small numbers of patients – in their development,” said Professor Sir Michael.
The 2012 Orphan Drug Award was won by Mepact from Takeda. Mepact (mifamurtide) is for the treatment of osteosarcoma, a rare malignant bone tumour – mainly of children and adolescents – that affects fewer than 1 per 10,000 individuals in the EU. This is equivalent to 150 children and young adults each year in the UK. Tumours most frequently occur in the long bones and are highly aggressive with a propensity to metastasise, particularly to the lung. If left untreated, the primary tumour will undergo local and systemic progression, leading to death within months.
“To investigate the role of this immune modulator in osteosarcoma required extensive and complex trial design with careful implementation of the study programme,” said Professor Sir Michael. “Apart from its novel mechanism of action – and clear evidence of its clinical effectiveness – the jury were also extremely impressed that such an advance in the management of osteosarcoma represents the first significant change in outcomes in 10–20 years of managing this disease. That Takeda managed to undertake the clinical development of this product – in such a niche indication – is hugely to their credit.”