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Vertex destroyed nearly 8,000 packs of Orkambi in 2018

Published on 28/03/19 at 03:08pm

Vertex destroyed nearly 8,000 packs of the $272,000 a year cystic fibrosis drug Orkambi in 2018, the company said in a letter to Sarah Wollaston MP.

The drugmaker, who are locked in negotiations with Britain’s cost effectiveness body NICE, revealed they had destroyed 7,880 packs of Orkambi after the medicines had passed their expiry date.

The revelation came after the US firm was questioned by the Health and Social Care Committee earlier this month.

On the 7th March Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, the Chair of the meeting at the House of Commons asked Vertex executives Dr Jeff Leiden and Stuart Arbuckle “How much Orkambi stock has been allowed to go out of date and has had to be destroyed over the last year in the UK?”

The executives responded in saying they did not know. Meanwhile Arbuckle suggested; “I  do not believe that we have had any stock go out of date and be destroyed.”

However in a letter Dr Wollaston from the 25 March, the company revealed that nearly 8,000 packs (each of which contained 28 day’s supply of Orkambi) had been destroyed after passing their expiry date.

The findings come as NICE refuse to recommend its use in the NHS, as they negotiate for a lower price.  

In speaking to the Health and Social Care Committee Dr Leiden said: “The price we are being offered by England… is a 90% discount on what all the other countries in Europe are paying,” as he suggested England’s health technology assessment (HTA) process was 25 years out of date.

 “The problem is   that we have been painted as not willing to take the offer, the 90% discount that England has made to us. I would say it differently: we cannot take that offer. It is not that we will not take it; we cannot,” Dr Leiden said.

In response, Andrew Selous MP said: “Dr Leiden, you criticised NICE for having a 25-year-old appraisal model, but as I understand it, Canada is saying that there should be a price reduction of 98%, France is seeking an 80% reduction and New York state wants a 70% one. In Ireland, the actual approval body says that it wants an 81% reduction, and the Netherlands wants an 83% reduction. Are you saying that  all those other jurisdictions, two of which are in North America, are also 25 years out of date and have not caught up with the new world of more advanced drugs?”

Meanwhile, Dr Wollaston accused the firm of walking away from negotiations as she suggested Vertex “are just trying  to  bully [governments] into changing their systems”.

Louis Goss

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