By Di Spencer, Pf Web Editor
This week, NICE decided the fate of various cancer drugs amid continued concerns over the impact of the Cancer Drugs Fund.
Pierre Fabre’s Javlor for bladder cancer, Novartis’ Afinitor for renal cell carcinoma and Glivec for GIST were all rejected on the grounds that the benefits they offered did not match up to their high prices.
NICE also reiterated its negative decision on Roche’s Tarceva for non-small cell lung cancer. However, its manufacturer may be hoping to secure a future recommendation in a small patient population, following its recent purchase of a diagnostic tool for the detection of EGFR mutations – which are particularly sensitive to Tarceva treatment.
In contrast, Roche’s Herceptin was recommended for the treatment of gastric cancer, so staff at Roche HQ may still get a Christmas party this year.
Following Cancer Research UK’s concerns about the Cancer Drugs Fund last week, regional NHS managers have, this week, expressed worries that the fund may not stretch as far as patients might hope – still leaving local consortia to make tough life or death decisions.
So it is unsurprising that one of the issues on the agenda for the European Parliament this week was the failing current payment scheme for drugs – proving unsustainable as governments cut costs. MEPs also voted against pharma companies being able to provide any promotional information to the public.
Some optimistic reports into possible bestsellers proved that innovation is not dead, however, providing the industry with something to give thanks for. Merck’s highly anticipated drug anacetrapib posted impressive cardiovascular results in Phase III trials, sparking hopes of a future blockbuster, while researchers at the University of Dundee produced evidence that diabetes treatment metformin could be highly successful in Alzheimer’s disease.
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