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AZ reacts to SMC's decision on Iressa

UK drug manufacturer expresses disappointment following the SMC's decision not to recommend Iressa for use in NHS Scotland

AstraZeneca (AZ) UK has expressed disappointment following the Scottish Medicines Consortium's (SMC) decision not to recommend Iressa (gefitinib) for use in NHS Scotland for the first line treatment of advanced NSCLC in patients with EGFR mutation positive tumours.

The drug manufacture claims that the SMC's negative decision creates inequality north of the border as patients in England and Wales are able to access gefitinib on the NHS following the positive recommendation of gefitinib by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in July 2010.

Despite the Patient Access Scheme Assessment Group (PASAG) approving the Single Payment Access (SPA) scheme put forward by AZ in Scotland, the SMC rejected the submission for gefitinib on the grounds of cost. AZ submitted a £14,210 cost per QALY, but the SMC based its decision on the assumption that the cost per QALY is likely to be over £30,000. 

The SMC's decision does not question the clinical effectiveness of gefitinib, as it recognised in its original decision in May 2010 that gefitinib, a targeted oral therapy, offers significant advantages to people with NSCLC over traditional treatment with doublet chemotherapy, in terms of improved Progression-Free Survival (PFS), improved quality of life (QoL) and symptom control.    

NHS boards will be able to take up the patient access scheme for any patients accessing gefitinib through Individual Patient Treatment Requests (exceptional use).

13th December 2010

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