UK health cost regulator rejects Glivec use at high doses

Top Quote The U.K.'s health-cost regulator Wednesday said it is unable to recommend Novartis AG's (NOVN.VX) key oncology drug Glivec as a follow up treatment for some stomach cancer patients due to a lack of cost-effectiveness. End Quote
  • (1888PressRelease) November 29, 2010 - The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, or NICE, said it won't back Glivec at increased doses to treat gastrointestinal stromal tumours when standard doses have stopped working, due to insufficient new evidence.

    "NICE already currently recommends Glivec at a dose of 400 milligram per day to treat gastrointestinal stromal tumours that cannot be removed by surgery," said NICE Chief Executive Andrew Dillon. But "there have been no new, good-quality clinical and cost effectiveness data produced on doses of 600 or 800 milligram per day."

    Novartis Wednesday reiterated its stance, first made public in September when NICE said it wouldn't recommend that patients be reimbursed for the drug, that there are clinical data that show that Glivec at higher doses is able to improve disease control.

    Back then, Panos Alexakos, Oncology General Manager for Novartis UK & Ireland said that the decision was "disappointing...for a group of patients with limited treatment options."

    Novartis said that about 900 people are diagnosed with gastrointestinal stromal tumours each year in the U.K. and that about 14% of these patients could benefit from a higher dose of the medicine.

    Glivec, known as Gleevec in the U.S., is Basel, Switzerland-based Novartis' second-best selling drug after heart drug Diovan, generating close to $4 billion in sales last year. The drug is set to lose patent protection starting in 2015, But Novartis hopes that its cancer drug Tasigna can help it balance expected sales losses.

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