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Published on 10 November 2008

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Roche defends costs of cancer drug

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The maker of cancer “wonder drug” Avastin has defended the price it charges, despite it being deemed too expensive for the NHS.

Julian Cole, chief medical director of Roche, told ITV1’s Tonight programme: “We believe the price is fair and we do have this ongoing dialogue to demonstrate the value for money to NICE.”

Professor Sir Michael Rawlins, the chairman of NICE – the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence – has said the drug does not provide value for money.

He said: “We have to look after the interest of everybody in the health service, not just the people with cancer. If you spend a lot of money on a few people it means that many other people will be denied cost-effective care.

“I understand that if you want four or six extra weeks of life it can be very important, but we have to be fair to everybody and there’s a limited pot of money. And what we’re talking about is how best to be fair.”

Health Secretary Alan Johnson said the government plans to discuss with drugs firms a variety of “risk-sharing” schemes that would lower the initial cost of new medication.

Copyright Press Association 2008

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