Kadcyla and Opdivo Too Expensive for NICE

NICE rejects promising oncology agents once again, citing high drug cost.

Two drugs that have offered hope to advanced breast cancer and advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patient have been rejected by the advisory watchdog to UK’s National Health Service, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Nivolumab (Opdivo), manufactured by Bristol-Myers Squibb, and trastuzumab emtansine (Kadcyla), manufactured by Roche, have both received a thumbs down by NICE.

In a draft guidance, NICE said that that using nivolumab as second-line treatment following chemotherapy in NSCLC patients was not a cost-effective option for the healthcare system in England. Reacting to this recommendation by NICE, Paul Workman, PhD, who leads the Institute of Cancer Research urged the pharmaceutical industry to reconsider the cost equation for promising drugs such as the new class of immunotherapy agents. “There is no question that this pioneering and innovative treatment improves and extends the life of patients with non-small cell lung cancer — a disease that has very limited treatment options – but at this price it is very clearly too expensive,” Workman said.

A similar fate was established for trastuzumab emtansine. According to NICE, £90,000 is too expensive for NHS to pay for treating a single advanced breast cancer patient. This, despite Roche offering a discounted price on the drug.