[Ip-health] Reuters: Petition calls on Roche to cut breast cancer drug price

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Tue Oct 21 06:56:06 PDT 2014


Petition calls on Roche to cut breast cancer drug price

LONDON Tue Oct 21, 2014 6:52pm IST

(Reuters) - A British-led petition signed by 29,000 people has demanded
that Switzerland's Roche, the world's biggest maker of cancer medicines,
cut the price of its expensive new breast cancer drug Kadcyla.

The campaign shows the growing pressure on drug companies as a raft of
promising new cancer treatments reach the market. U.S. insurers also say
they are alarmed by a coming flood of cancer medicines with "astronomical
price tags", while pricing rows have flared in France and Italy.

Kadcyla can add about half a year to the lives of some women with
inoperable breast cancer but Britain's cost watchdog NICE estimates it
costs about 90,000 pounds ($145,000) per patient and is too pricey for the
state-run health service.

Roche argues the cost reflects the benefits offered by its innovative
treatment. It also disputes the headline price cited by the National
Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

NICE bases its calculation on a mean treatment course of 14.5 months,
whereas the median length of treatment in clinical trials -- the measure
Roche believes is more relevant -- was 9.6 months, reducing the cost per
patient significantly.

The Care2 petition, calling on Roche Chief Executive Severin Schwan to
reduce the price of Kadcyla to a level public health services can afford,
was started by British breast cancer survivor Margaret Connolly.

Kadcyla combines the antibody used in Roche's established Herceptin drug
and a tumor-killing payload that is delivered directly into cancer cells,
causing fewer chemotherapy-related side effects such as hair loss.

It is one of a number of targeted therapies that are revolutionizing cancer
care. Other promising new approaches include a range of drugs to help the
immune system fight cancer, which also carry a high price.

(1 US dollar = 0.6191 British pound)

(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; editing by David Clarke)

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