February 9, 2010 / 12:02 AM / 10 years ago

UK says Novartis, Bristol cancer drugs too costly

* Watchdog recommends against Afinitor, Tasigna and Sprycel

* Limited data to back benefits of three pricey drugs - NICE

LONDON, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Britain’s cost-effectiveness watchdog recommended against two expensive cancer drugs from Novartis AG NOVN.VX and one from Bristol-Myers Squibb Co (BMY.N) being used within the state-run health service.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) said on Tuesday it was unable to recommend Afinitor from Novartis as a second-line treatment for kidney cancer, adding there was limited data about how long it could extend life.

It also rebuffed the Switzerland-based company’s Tasigna and Bristol’s Sprycel for chronic myeloid leukaemia in patients who are intolerant to Glivec — an older drug from Novartis — stating evidence to support their effectiveness was “very poor” and their cost was “extremely high”.

“It would be heartening to hear that the pharmaceutical company manufacturers are prepared to share some of the very high cost of the drugs with the NHS (National Health Service),” NICE director Peter Littlejohns said in a statement.

NICE, which has pioneered the analysis of cost-effectiveness for new drugs, has struck several previous deals with companies to reduce the cost of medicines before recommending them for use in the NHS.

Its latest draft guidance is available for public consultation before any final decisions are taken. (Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by David Holmes)

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