Vertex says ‘some way’ to CF drug price deal after NHS meeting
Representatives of Vertex Pharmaceuticals and NHS England met last week in an attempt to end a two-year long stand-off over the price of cystic fibrosis drugs – but there is still a long way to go before the matter is resolved.
Pressure from patient groups forced a parliamentary debate on access to Vertex’s CF drugs, after NICE rejected the company’s Orkambi combination therapy in 2016.
An online petition attracted more than 100,000 signatures, the threshold for a discussion in Parliament, and ministers have written to Vertex asking for the matter to be resolved.
Vertex is asking the NHS for a deal covering the price of its portfolio of CF drugs, including those that are yet to be approved, and will expand the proportion of the disease population who will be eligible for treatment.
The company confirmed in a statement that Vertex met with representatives of NHS England last Wednesday.
But a spokesperson added: “Both parties recognise there is still some way to go to reach an agreement and Vertex is committed to working together to achieve this. We share the cystic fibrosis community’s sense of urgency and have agreed to meet again in the coming weeks. There’s lots of work to do on both sides ahead of this to progress discussions as quickly as possible.”
However there is hope that there will be further progress in meetings over the coming weeks.
pharmaphorum understands that the biggest stumbling block is that NHS England wants to pay the same price as Vertex’s already-approved and NICE-backed Kalydeco (ivacaftor) for the company’s drugs.
Kalydeco’s list price is around £182,600 per year, although the company has agreed a confidential discount.
Cystic Fibrosis Trust public affairs manager Lynsey Beswick said: “We welcome the news that Vertex and NHS England have had further talks on the company’s medicines. This appears to be positive progress in our goal to gain access to the most advanced new medicines for people with cystic fibrosis at the earliest possible opportunity.”
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