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NHS England seals access deals with big pharma for breast cancer and MS

Published on 09/11/17 at 11:00am

NHS England has entered into a commercial agreement with Merck which aims to provide access to innovative treatments for both multiple sclerosis and breast cancer, it has emerged. As part of the agreement with two major pharma firms, Merck’s multiple sclerosis treatment Mavenclad (cladribine tablets) will be made available to hundreds of patients effective 10 November, while an agreement in principle has been reached on the availability of Roche’s Perjeta (pertuzumab) by unlocking the final stage of NICE’s appraisal. 

The partnership comes as a result of NHSE’s more direct involvement in the industry and with pharma firms, enabling it to negotiate deals which work for both patients and taxpayers. The organisation recently agreed similar access deals for Roche’s Kadcyla (trastuzumab emtansine) for breast cancer and Alexion’s Strensiq (asfotase alfa) for a rare bone disease.

Speaking at the Financial Times Global Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Conference in London, Chief Executive of the NHS, Simon Stevens, said: “These innovative deals are concrete examples of how NHS England is now successfully working with the life sciences industry to make treatments available for patients, while securing fair value for taxpayers.

"Today’s announcement shows that for companies who are willing to work with us, there are real gains for them, for the NHS and most importantly for patients able to get new and innovative drugs."

On the deal secured with Roche for breast cancer patients, Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Now, remarked: “This is exceptionally good news for patients and their doctors, and we very much hope that NICE will now be able to approve Perjeta as soon as possible. The impact that this treatment has had, and will hopefully now continue to have on the NHS, for thousands of women living with incurable metastatic breast cancer and their loved ones cannot be underestimated.

“Perjeta is an indispensable and life-changing drug, offering women with incurable breast cancer nearly 16 extra months to live compared to other treatments. We’re thrilled that, once more, tough negotiation and flexibility by NHS England and NICE, and the willingness of Roche to put patients first and compromise on price, is set to ensure that thousands of women can be given precious extra time to live.

“This step shows quite clearly that robust deal-making is possible and can achieve real value for money for the NHS and the taxpayer. With uncertainty continuing to surround the consideration of combination treatments for NHS use, we hope that Perjeta will prove a precedent rather than an exception.”

Finally, on the deal concerning Mavenclad, Elisabeth Prchla, Merck UK General Manager, added: “We are delighted with the NHS England decision on this commercial agreement, which will see patients in England access the treatment immediately. This is a first of its kind in multiple sclerosis, which can also be a benchmark for the future, bringing together the NHS, government and industry to achieve faster access for patients, in line with the UK’s Life Sciences Industrial Strategy.”

She continued: “This milestone underscores our commitment to unmet needs in the MS community – we have been working closely with NHS England to find a solution that not only provides access to our medicine as early as possible but will also save the NHS money at a time of immense financial pressures.”

Matt Fellows

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