Roche, Bristol-Myers cut cancer drug prices to win UK approval

A trader passes by a screen displaying the tickers symbols for Bristol-Myers Squibb and Intelsat, Ltd. on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange

A trader passes by a screen displaying the tickers symbols for Bristol-Myers Squibb and Intelsat, Ltd. on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange, April 25, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

LONDON (Reuters) – Roche and Bristol-Myers Squibb on Thursday became the latest drugmakers to cut the price of cancer medicines in order to secure access to Britain’s National Health Service.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) cost watchdog, which had rejected Roche’s breast cancer treatment Perjeta in May, said a price discount now offered by the Swiss firm had helped win it a green light.

Bristol’s leukemia drug Sprycel was also recommended for routine use after the U.S. company offered a bigger discount. Sprycel was previously covered by the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF), which was overhauled earlier this year.

Out of nine CDF treatments that NICE has looked at so far, seven have been cleared for general use. The remainder are in the process of being reappraised.

“Sensible pricing and in some cases better data is helping to secure access to important cancer medicines as they move out of the old Cancer Drugs Fund,” said NICE Chief Executive Andrew Dillon.

Other international drugmakers including Novartis and Pfizer have also offered increased discounts in recent months. The exact size of all these discounts is commercially confidential.

Roche’s Perjeta is designed for use in combination with chemotherapy and Herceptin before breast cancer surgery, while Sprycel is used in certain types of chronic myeloid leukemia.

(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

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