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SMC: Celgene's Abraxane 'too expensive' for Scotland

But medicines watchdog backs Sovaldi, Invokana, Defitelio, Relvar Ellipta

Celgene Abraxane pancreatic cancerPancreatic cancer patients in Scotland should not have NHS access to Celgene's Abraxane, according to guidance from the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC).

The decision was one of several published yesterday by the SMC, which assesses the cost-effectiveness of new treatments for use by the NHS in Scotland.

Drugs that received positive opinions included Janssen's Invokana (canagliflozin) for type 2 diabetes, Jazz Pharmaceuticals' Defitelio (defibrotide) for liver disease, GSK's respiratory combination Relvar Ellipta (fluticasone furoate / vilanterol) and Gilead Science's fast-growing hepatitis C treatment Sovaldi (sofosbuvir).

Regarding Abraxane (paclitaxel albumin), the SMC's full guidance states that it does not recommend the drug in combination with gemcitabine for the first-line treatment of adult patients with metastatic adenocarcinoma of the pancreas. This is one of the drug's two approved EU indications, the other being metastatic breast cancer.

The SMC did acknowledge the drug's benefits in patients with pancreatic cancer, with clinical data demonstrating it can improve overall survival by 1.8 months compared with treatment with gemcitabine alone.

However, the watchdog said that the cost-effectiveness of the medicine was “above the threshold that is normally accepted”.

The decision was challenged by the charity Pancreatic Cancer UK whose CEO Alex Ford said it was “bad news for metastatic pancreatic cancer patients in Scotland”.

Ford added that it was “especially distressing” as Abraxane is available in England via the Cancer Drugs Fund - a fund set up by the government specifically to pay for cancer drugs not available for NHS reimbursement.

Celgene is currently trying obtain NHS reimbursement status for Abraxane in England and Wales and has submitted the drug for review by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the SMC equivalent for the NHS in England and Wales. NICE guidance is expected in the autumn.

Article by
Thomas Meek

10th June 2014

From: Sales

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