Press review


Cutting-edge NHS drugs do more harm than good

Country : Ireland, U.S., UK

Keywords :
LONDON, Mar 16 (APM) - Almost all new drugs approved for UK National Health Service use do more harm than good, according to modelling adopted by the government, The Times reported on Monday.
Saving a life with a new drug can cost about twice as much as doing the same through more staff or equipment, according to official calculations that led to calls for reform of the way the NHS pays for medicines.
The Department of Health and Social Care has implicitly conceded that the cost of most cutting-edge medicines kills more people through diverting money from other NHS services than the treatments themselves save.
Yet drugs are still assessed using a more generous formula than other types of NHS spending, and experts have questioned why they are prioritised over areas such as nursing staff or radiotherapy machines to treat cancer.
Ministers are consulting on tightening the rules on vaccines to bring them into line with other spending by reducing the threshold at which they are judged cost-effective.

AstraZeneca faces longer delay on key cancer drug test

Key data on whether an AstraZeneca drug improves overall survival for people with non-small cell lung cancer that has spread in the body will not now be released until the second half of the year, the Financial Times reported on Monday. (APMHE 57251)
The findings had previously been expected in the first half of 2018. Noting the “updated timeline”, the statement said only that Mystic was “an event-driven clinical trial and continues per protocol”.
The trial is examining the use of Imfinzi (durvalumab) both as a monotherapy and in combination with another drug, tremelimumab, versus chemotherapy in previously untreated patients with advanced disease.
In July, more than 10 billion pounds was wiped off the value of AstraZeneca's stock in a day when a first tranche of data showed the combination was no better than chemotherapy at preventing the disease progressing in this group of patients.

Kisqali, Keytruda backed for NHS use in Scotland

The Scottish Medicines Consortium has recommended use of Novartis's Kisqali (ribociclib) for advanced breast cancer in postmenopausal women and Merck & Co's Keytruda (pembrolizumab) for advanced Hodgkin’s lymphoma in patients who have failed to respond to previous treatments, The Times said on Tuesday.
However, the health technology assessment (HTA) body, which advises on what drugs are a cost-effectives use of NHS resources in Scotland, rejected Roche's Tecentriq (atezolizumab) for advanced bladder cancer (APMHE 57261).

Epilepsy drug sees 1,300% price increase in Ireland

Essential Pharma increased the price of an epilepsy medicine by more than 1,300% and sought price rises of up to 3,000% to maintain other drugs in the Irish market, The Times said on Tuesday.
The company wrote to the Health Service Executive in February last year saying that it required a substantial price rise to “ensure the continued supply” in the Irish market of Zarontin (ethosuximide), an anti-convulsant used to treat epilepsy, the paper reported.
Internal HSE memos seen by The Times show Essential Pharma sought to increase the price of the drug from 3.56 euros a pack to 50 euros. The HSE gave in to the rise last May.

Theranos founder charged with ‘massive’ securities fraud

The FT on Thursday reported that Elizabeth Holmes, the Theranos founder who was once feted as the future of Silicon Valley, has been stripped of control of her blood-testing group and banned from public companies for 10 years after U.S. authorities charged her with “massive” securities fraud.
The Securities and Exchange Commission accused Holmes and Ramesh Balwani, the company’s former president, of raising more than $700 million in start-up capital by lying to investors about the product at the heart of the group’s business, the paper said.
The charges, which Holmes agreed to settle without admitting wrongdoing, bring into sharp relief the remarkable downfall of an entrepreneur who had wowed investors and the media until her company’s underlying technology began to fall apart under scrutiny.

Hikma’s generic version of GSK’s Advair delayed

The launch of Hikma’s generic version of GlaxoSmithKline’s blockbuster respiratory drug Advair is delayed in the U.S. after the Food and Drug Administration insisted the company conduct a further clinical study following a dispute process, The Times said on Monday.
This is the latest setback for Hikma and its partner Vectura after the FDA withheld approval and required significant amendments to its application.
The FT on Wednesday reported that Hikma's shares rose more than 10% after it shrugged off U.S. pricing pressures to deliver a consensus-beating financial performance. (APMHE 57287)

Former GSK CEO Witty gets new healthcare role in U.S.

The FT on Tuesday covered the appointment of former GSK CEO Sir Andrew Witty to head UnitedHealth Group’s Optum division, which offers services including pharmacy benefit management in the U.S. (APMHE 57279).



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