NICE not keen on Novartis myeloma drug

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Novartis has suffered a setback after cost watchdogs issued a preliminary rejection for the use of its multiple myeloma drug Farydak by the National Health Service in England and Wales.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is currently appraising the use of Farydak (panobinostat) in combination with Celgene’s Velcade (bortezomib) and dexamethasone for multiple myeloma patients who have already received at least two prior therapies.

The drug got European approval this month on data which showed that patients receiving the Farydak-based combo saw a delay in disease progression of 7.8 months more than those given Velcade/dexamethasone alone. However, NICE said that while the drug may provide an additional option for patients because of its different mode of action when compared with existing therapies, it did not consider it a step-change in treatment.

The agency added that it was not possible to determine the most plausible incremental cost-effectiveness ratio for the drug, “because the appropriate analyses had not been presented”.

Novartis said it is disappointed with the decision, but that it will continue to “work closely” with NICE to achieve a positive final outcome for patients. “With nearly half of multiple myeloma patients currently not expected to survive past five years, this is a wholly unacceptable situation that is indicative of the wider issues surrounding the assessment of, and access to, cancer medicines in England.”

News of the knock-back for Farydak came shortly after the Cancer Drugs Fund delisted Celgene’s multiple myeloma treatments Celgene’s Revlimid (lenalidomide) and Imnovid (pomalidomide) in England.