Monday, 21 May 2012

NICE approves abiraterone

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has now approved NHS funding of abiraterone for the treatment of castration-resistant metastatic prostate cancer.

Back in February, when NICE announced its preliminary decision to withhold approval, I wrote
So why has NICE announced a preliminary decision to withhold approval? It must be to give Johnson & Johnson the chance to make its offer more attractive. Probably not by anything as crude as cutting the price, but by some mechanism such as providing the drug free to any patient remaining on it beyond a specified length of time.
And NICE now says
The cost of abiraterone is £2930 for 120 tablets (excluding VAT; British national formulary [BNF] 63, March 2012). Abiraterone is administered as a single dose of 1 g per day, taken as four 250-mg tablets.The manufacturer of abiraterone (Janssen) has agreed a patient access scheme with the Department of Health. This involves a single confidential discount applied to the list price of abiraterone...
So there you have it.  The headline price of the drug is unchanged, the actual price charged has been reduced, and everyone is happy, apart from any patients who didn't get the best treatment while this slow dance was being performed.

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