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NICE to take another look at Pfizer’s leukaemia drug

Published on 02/01/18 at 11:52am

Back in August of 2017, NICE rejected Pfizer’s Besponsa on cost-effectiveness grounds and the pharma giant was not best pleased. It responded to the decision in strong terms, lambasting the “frustrating decision” and it has now revealed that NICE has agreed to return to evaluate the treatment, again.

Besponsa is used to treatment adults with relapsed or refractory (R/R) CD22-positive B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). The rare condition only affects an estimated 760 people each year in the UK.

The treatment was able to show that 41% of patients who received the treatment were put into remission, and therefore able to receive a stem cell transplant. This compared favourably against the 11% of patients who continued on standard therapy.

Beyond this, a post hoc survival study found that those treated with the drug survived 13.9 months against the standard care median of 9.9 months.

However, NICE rejected the treatment based on the fact that it would cost over the £100,000 per QALY threshold, at around £114,000, making the treatment too expensive for the benefits it conferred to patients under its criteria.

The decision infuriated Pfizer, who responded suggesting that the decision could be seen as “another example of how NICE is not appropriately assessing the value of modern cancer medicines”.

Now, NICE has accepted Pfizer’s appeal of this decision, meaning that the case will be referred back to NICE’s appraisal committee to re-assess the evidence.

The response from Pfizer was, understandably, much warmer this time around. Craig Eagle, Head of Oncology, Pfizer UK, said: “NICE’s decision to uphold the appeal and re-assess the evidence for inotuzumab ozogamicin is good news for some of the most vulnerable leukaemia patients in the UK. Pfizer is committed to ongoing collaboration with NICE to ensure that eligible patients are granted access to inotuzumab ozogamicin.”

Ben Hargreaves

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