November 13, 2019 / 12:13 PM / 24 days ago

Vertex deal with Wales expands cystic fibrosis treatment coverage to all of UK

(Reuters) - Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc’s drugs for lung condition cystic fibrosis will now be available to patients across the UK after the company reached a pricing deal with Wales on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: A sign hangs in front of the world headquarters of Vertex Pharmaceuticals in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., October 23, 2019. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

The U.S. drugmaker has already reached similar agreements with the National Health Service in Northern Ireland, England and Scotland.

More than 10,000 people in Britain have cystic fibrosis, a debilitating, life-shortening inherited condition, making it the country with the second highest number of such patients in the world, according to the company.

Although the terms agreed with the countries have not been disclosed, UK government-run healthcare systems have been negotiating treatment supply with Vertex for years.

The company had wanted to charge around 100,000 pounds ($129,000) a year for a course of Orkambi, its combination drug that improves lung function, according to reports.

“This has been a hard-fought four year battle,” said David Ramsden, chief executive officer at UK-based charity the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.

However, Ramsden noted the company’s new drug, known as Trikafta in the United States, is likely to make a bigger difference for a wider group of cystic fibrosis patients.

“We must do all we can to ensure there is no repeat of the deadlock and delays in accessing these treatments when they are licensed,” he added.

Vertex said its agreement with Wales will allow about 270 eligible patients to be treated with Orkambi, as well as its other medicines Symkevi and Kalydeco.

Shares of the company were marginally higher at $205 in light premarket trading.

Reporting by Dania Nadeem in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Shinjini Ganguli

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