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Daily Brief:  NICE says no to Zytiga, Genentech and UK biotech sign microbiome deal

All the latest from the frontlines of healthcare

Hello and welcome to today’s round-up of news from pharma, biotech and healthcare.

After putting in a barnstorming performance at ASCO, there is more good news for MSD's Keytruda in England, as patients with metastatic lung cancer will gain full access to the immunotherapy. The decision is a milestone for England’s market – but MSD needed to offer another price discount before NHS England gave its blessing. Read more here:

Keytruda cleared for frontline lung cancer in England - but only after another pricing deal

UK Market Access

NICE says no to Zytiga


NICE has rejected Janssen’s Zytiga plus androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) for men with untreated high-risk hormone-sensitive metastatic prostate cancer (mHSPC).

The pharma company and charity Prostate Cancer UK say the draft decision is disappointing, and would leave up to 4,400 men with this particularly aggressive form of prostate cancer unable to access the treatment until their disease has progressed.

Around half of patients unable to tolerate conventional chemotherapy (docetaxel) will be left with no life-prolonging treatment option at this early, but crucial stage of treatment, as Zytiga is the only licensed treatment for mHSPC that can delay chemotherapy and disease progression, prolong overall survival and maintain patients’ quality of life.

Jennifer Lee, Director of Health Economics, Market Access and Reimbursement (HEMAR) and Advocacy at Janssen UK, said, “This is extremely disappointing news for men in the UK with mHSPC and their families.

“We firmly believe that the clinical effectiveness demonstrated in the multinational, Phase 3 LATITUDE study, means that abiraterone plus ADT should be made available routinely to NHS patients that need it, and we will continue to work closely with NICE to make this happen.”

Genentech signs major microbiome deal with UK biotech

Roche’s biotech division Genentech has signed a major new deal with young UK biotech start up Microbiotica, which specialises in drug development based on insights from the gut microbiome.

There is growing understanding that the billions of bacteria in the body, especially in the gut, play a crucial role in maintaining health, and could help develop a range of new therapies.

Genentech is tapping into the Cambridge, UK-based company’s expertise by using its precision metagenomics microbiome platform to analyse patient samples from clinical trials of its investigational IBD medicines.

This will allow researchers to identify microbiome biomarker signatures of drug response, novel IBD drug targets and live bacterial therapeutic products.

The deal is a coup for Microbiotica, which was only set up 18 months ago, and will see it receive an undisclosed upfront payment, with R&D research and commercialisation milestone payments of up to $534m.

Government ‘in a bind’ over promise of more NHS money

Theresa May looks to be gearing up to unveil a funding boost for the NHS – but will have to cut other services or raise taxes if the increase is to be meaningful.

The prime minister hinted earlier this year that the government was preparing to announce extra funding, likely to be geared around the impending 70th birthday of the NHS on 5 July. However two think tanks, the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) and the Health Foundation have teamed up to warn that the PM faces some very difficult choices.

That’s because the government is sticking to its goal of cutting the budget deficit, and achieving a budget balance by the mid-2020s, despite currently looking highly unlikely to hit this target.

This plan already involves further cuts to public spending – but adding extra NHS spending would make it impossible to hit its budget balance goal, unless it raises taxes.

The IFS and Health Foundation commented: "The government is in a bind…it is hard to see how a significant injection of additional cash into the NHS would be consistent with the government’s stated fiscal objective."

Uncertainty about the economy, with Brexit as the main source, will make the Treasury even less willing to commit to higher spending.

The think tanks concluded: “Either public services will face more years of substantial cuts, or taxes will rise or social security benefits will be cut further, or yet another set of fiscal rules will, in effect, be abandoned.”

Article by
Andrew McConaghie

6th June 2018

From: Marketing



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