NICE backs five therapies, rejects one

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The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has published its final recommendations on whether six medicines (for four separate conditions) should be routinely funded by the NHS, and backed five of them.

First up, NICE has recommended three new treatments – Gilead Sciences’ Harvoni (ledipasvir/sofosbuvir), Abbie’s Viekirax (ombitasvir/paritaprevir/ritonavir) with or without the company’s Exviera (dasabuvir) and Bristol-Myers Squibb Daklinza (daclatasvir) – with certain genotypes of hepatitis C.

The cost-watchdog said prescribing decisions should be made by “multidisciplinary teams in the operational delivery networks put in place by NHS England, to prioritise treatment for people with the highest unmet clinical need”. Charles Gore, chief executive of the Hepatitis C Trust, said the final recommendations “will mean many more patients are able to access the best treatment. Now we have the drugs, we need to make sure patients can get them quickly”.

NICE also recommended Merck, Sharp & Dohme’s immunotherapy Keytruda (pembrolizumab) for treating advanced melanoma that has not been previously treated with Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Yervoy (ipilimumab) and at the discount agreed in the patient access scheme. The agency has also backed Lundbeck and Takeda’s Brintellix (vortioxetine) as a third-line treatment for major depressive episodes.

However, NICE has decided not to recommend Celgene’s Otezla (apremilast), an oral treatment for moderate to severe chronic plaque psoriasis, concluding that the costs outweigh its benefit.