LONDON May 14 Britain's healthcare
cost-effectiveness agency NICE said on Wednesday that a Johnson
& Johnson prostate cancer drug, originally invented in
Britain, was not worth giving to patients who have yet to
Although Zytiga, or abiraterone, is already cleared for use
in some men after chemotherapy, a green light for its earlier
use would allow many more patients to access the oral medicine.
"We know how important it is for patients to have the option
to delay chemotherapy and its associated side effects, so we are
disappointed not to be able to recommend abiraterone for use in
this way," Andrew Dillon, chief executive of the National
Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), said in a
"However, the manufacturer's own economic model showed that
the drug would not be cost-effective at this stage - because of
this we cannot recommend the drug in this preliminary guidance."
Zytiga, which is given as a daily tablet, costs 2,930 pounds
($4,900) for 120 tablets.
Paul Workman, deputy chief executive of Britain's Institute
of Cancer Research, whose scientists discovered the drug, said
he was disappointed by the decision and he urged NICE, the state
health service and J&J to reach a deal on a fair price as soon
"Abiraterone has in part been a victim of the success of
prostate cancer medicine, since men who have not yet received
chemotherapy now live for longer than two years, meaning NICE
could not apply its end of life criteria," he added.
NICE, which must decide if treatments offer value for money
for the public health service, is frequently chastised for not
recommended expensive new cancer drugs. In an effort to address
some of these concerns it introduced a more lenient appraisal
system for drugs given at the end of a patient's life.
($1 = 0.5939 British pounds)
(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Greg Mahlich)