AstraZeneca cuts and caps Lynparza price, NICE says yes

England’s cost-effectiveness watchdog NICE has changed its ruling on AstraZeneca’s (AZ) ovarian cancer drug Lynparza after the company made concessions on price.

NICE had said no to Lynparza in June, but has announced today that it will recommend Lynparza (olaparib) for maintenance treatment of relapsed platinum-sensitive ovarian, fallopian tube and peritoneal cancer.

The drug is for patients who have tested positive for the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations, and whose disease has responded to platinum-based chemotherapy.

The news will come as a relief for AZ, which is looking to re-establish its presence in oncology, with Lynparza in the first in a new wave of treatments emerging from its pipeline. However its approval only gives access to a limited number of patients with the disease, which is the fifth most common in women.

NICE’s independent Appraisal Committee had asked AZ to provide more information on the cost effectiveness of the drug in a subgroup of patients with relapsed disease who had had three or more courses of platinum-based chemotherapy.

It is only in these patients, who have exhausted most other options – in which the treatment will be funded.

AZ not only provided this further information but, more significantly, also offered a discount on the drug’s list price (£3,550 per 28-day pack excluding VAT in the UK) as well as a cap on total costs. Until further data become available to give greater clarity on the long-term costs and benefits of olaparib for this small group of patients, AZ will provide the NHS with olaparib free of charge for those who remain on therapy for over 15 months.

The final draft guidance is open to consultation, with final guidance expected within a few months.

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