LONDON Feb 17 Britain's healthcare cost agency has endorsed Celgene's (CELG.O) drug Vidaza or azacitidine for the treatment of rare blood cancer, reversing an earlier refusal, after the manufacturer made concessions on costs.
The drug is use to treat myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), a group of bone marrow disorders where the marrow doesn't produce enough of one or more types of blood cells. MDS affects about 700 patients in England and Wales. Carole Longson, health technology evaluation centre director at NICE, said the drug was not a cure but it had the potential to extend patients' lives by an average of nine months.
"It is a very expensive drug, but the manufacturers have submitted a patient access scheme where the cost will be reduced," she said.
NICE's decision means the drug would be available for patients via the taxpayer-funded National Health System (NHS).
The drug is priced at about 45,000 pounds ($72,000) per patient per year before the discount, the level of which was not disclosed.
The ruling is NICE's second draft decision and is open to appeal before NICE issues final guidance to the NHS. (Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Louise Heavens) ($1=.6222 Pound)