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Roche defends price of cancer drug banned as too expensive by NHS

10 November 2008

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Pharmaceutical company Roche has defended the price of a cancer “wonder drug” that has been banned from use by the NHS because it is too expensive.

Chief medical director Julian Cole told ITV1’s Tonight programme: “We believe the price is fair, and we do have this ongoing dialogue to demonstrate the value for money to NICE.”

NICE, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, has been criticised for not making certain cancer-treating drugs available because of their cost.

Dr Cole has said that Roche is in discussions with NICE and the Department of Health about the drug, Avastin, and its potential role in cancer treatment.

He said: “What we try to do is set a fair price in the first place and then justify to NICE that price, but we do have an ongoing dialogue to try and make those medicines available across the NHS.”

Health Secretary Alan Johnson has said that the government plans to discuss with drugs firms a variety of “risk-sharing” schemes, with companies being paid more as evidence of their clinical effectiveness grows.

The measure is part of a package that included allowing patients to pay privately for medicines while still receiving NHS care.

Copyright © Press Association 2008