UK cost agency reconsiders snub for GSK lupus drug

LONDON, Sept 7 Fri Sep 7, 2012 4:34am EDT

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LONDON, Sept 7 (Reuters) - Britain's healthcare cost watchdog NICE said on Friday it was reconsidering a decision to recommend against use of GlaxoSmithKline's lupus drug Benlysta on the state health service, following an appeal by the drugmaker.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) will refer the issue back to a committee of experts, after an appeals panel at the agency upheld two points raised by GSK.

Draft guidance from NICE last September recommended against use of the medicine given its high cost. NICE puts the cost at 2,308.50 pounds ($3,700) over the first four weeks and then 769.50 pounds every four weeks, although GSK has offered an undisclosed discount.

"The outcome of the appeal is a positive step," said GSK's UK general manager Erik van Snippenberg.

"However, the restrictive nature of the NICE appraisal and appeal process remains a challenge and we continue to be concerned about our probability of achieving a successful outcome and reversing the negative determination."

Benlysta, the first new treatment for lupus in a half-century, was approved in Europe last year. It was co-developed with Human Genome Sciences, which GSK acquired this year in order to gain full control of the medicine.

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