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NICE winning drug price war

21st December 2009

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has recommended that trabectedin can be used by the NHS to treat cancer patients, following a deal with its manufacturer.

Drugs & Money

The drug is used to treat soft tissue sarcoma, which affects around 2,000 people in Britain. It is a rare kind of cancer that targets muscle and tissue in the body. 

Trabectedin damages cancer cells and prevents them spreading to other areas of the body.

The new deal by NICE with the Spanish manufacturer PharmaMar could result in the price of trabectedin to the NHS being reduced by 50%.

Over the course of 2009, two other manufacturers have reduced prices in order to secure the watchdog's approval.

NICE has approved the drug for use when other treatments have not worked or have caused side-effects, and where PharmaMar will pay for treatment with a fifth course of the drug, if it is required.

Dr Carole Longson, Health Technology Evaluation Centre Director at Nice said: "We are delighted the Independent Appraisal Committee has been able to recommend trabectedin in its draft guidance. It has certainly not been an easy decision to make; soft tissue sarcoma is a rare cancer and the evidence was limited."

"However, treatment options for this type of cancer are limited and in the last 20 years there have been no major developments to treat the advanced stages of this disease. Being able to recommend trabectedin for use on the NHS represents a step forward in the care of this group of patients who may have very few treatment options left."

 

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