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Published on 28 October 2008

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Cancer drug in NHS price-cut bid

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A US pharmaceutical company may be forced to cut the price of a life-prolonging blood cancer drug deemed too expensive for the NHS

Revlimid, the brand name for the drug lenalidomide, can extend the lives of patients with multiple myeloma by nearly three years.

It costs £4,368 for just one month, and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has ruled that it is not sufficiently cost-effective to justify prescribing it.

Three charities have now called on Celgene, the drug’s manufacturer, the Department of Health and NICE to find a way for it to be made available.

The company may be forced to accept a cost-cutting deal, or a risk-sharing scheme whereby it agrees to refund the NHS if a patient does not respond to treatment.

Such schemes are already in place for another multiple myeloma drug, Velcade, and several treatments for multiple sclerosis.

Celgene might alternatively agree to a discount that starts after the first year of treatment and increases the longer a patient survives.

An offer of one or two free courses of treatment is another possibility – or a straightforward price cut, seen as the least likely option.

Copyright PA Business 2008

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