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[LONDON] Pfizer and Novartis have agreed price cuts for their rival breast cancer drugs Ibrance and Kisqali to ensure they can be used routinely within Britain's state-funded health service.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice), the country's cost-effectiveness agency, said on Thursday the two drugs were being recommended despite uncertainty about how long they extend overall survival.
Both are oral drugs, given in concert with hormonal therapies, that inhibit two proteins called CDK 4 and 6. They have the same official list price of £2,950 (S$5,268) for one cycle of treatment.
The size of the discounts being offered by the manufacturers are commercially confidential.
A third CDK 4/6 drug from Eli Lilly is also licensed in the United States but not yet in Europe.
Pfizer's Ibrance was the first CDK 4/6 drug to win a European green light. However, Nice initially turned it down for use on the National Health Service (NHS) in February because its cost was too high.
The US company on Thursday welcomed the Nice decision to fund it now, following the pricing deal, but UK oncology head Craig Eagle said there were "still challenges" in bringing new cancer medicines to patients in Britain.
In the case of Novartis's Kisqali, the Nice decision has been unusually fast and the medicine is the first cancer treatment to be recommended by the cost watchdog within 90 days of marketing authorisation through an updated review process.