UK cost agency backs Bristol arthritis drug after price cut

LONDON Wed Dec 5, 2012 7:01pm EST

LONDON Dec 6 (Reuters) - In a change of tack, Britain's healthcare cost watchdog NICE has recommended the use of Bristol-Myers Squibb's rheumatoid arthritis drug Orencia by the state health service following a price discount.

The move is the latest example of drugmakers having to cut deals with health authorities in Europe in order to ensure their medicines are used, even after they have been approved as safe and effective.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) said on Thursday it now supported giving the biotech drug to patients whose disease had not responded adequately to conventional non-biological medicines.

Previously, NICE only backed the use of Orencia if patients fail to respond adequately to one of a class of biological therapies known as tumour necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors.

Orencia costs around 12,000 pounds ($19,000) per patient a year but NICE said Bristol had offered a discount to this list price, the size of which has not been disclosed.

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