October 24, 2019 / 12:55 PM / a month ago

Vertex cystic fibrosis drug to be available in England after pricing deal

LONDON (Reuters) - Cystic fibrosis patients in England will have access to life-extending drugs after the state-funded health service said it had agreed a pricing deal with manufacturer Vertex Pharmaceuticals.

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

England’s National Health Service (NHS) has been negotiating with Vertex for years about supplying Orkambi, a combination drug that improves lung function.

The U.S. company had wanted to charge around 100,000 pounds ($129,000) a year for a course of Orkambi, according to reports. The terms agreed on Thursday were not disclosed.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was “fantastic news for those suffering from this terrible disease.”

“I pay tribute to those who have campaigned so passionately and tirelessly on this issue - your efforts have made all the difference,” he said.

Two other Vertex cystic fibrosis treatments - Symkevi and Kalydeco - are included in the deal, Vertex said.

“This important agreement, reached in collaboration and partnership with NHS England and (funding watchdog) NICE, will allow more than 5,000 eligible cystic fibrosis patientsin England to have access to CFTR modulators to treat the underlying cause of their disease,” said Ludovic Fenaux, senior vice president, Vertex International.

More than 10,000 people in Britain have cystic fibrosis, a debilitating, life-shortening inherited condition.

Vertex said it had also recently announced reimbursement agreements in Scotland, Australia and Spain.

Trikafta, a three-drug combination developed by Vertex, which greatly expands the percentage of patients that can be treated, was approved by the U.S. regulator on Monday, five months ahead of its previously announced decision date.

It is the first approved treatment that is effective for patients 12 years and older who have a genetic mutation which affects 90% of CF patients.

Vertex has priced Trikafta at $311,503 per year.

Analysts expect the early approval to accelerate the launch date for Trikafta, which they expect will make $630 million in 2020.

Reporting by Paul Sandle, Editing by William Maclean and Alexandra Hudson

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