Zeltia cancer drug rejected by UK cost agency

NICE says not recommending Yondelis for ovarian cancer

Britain’s health watchdog NICE has rejected Zeltia’s (ZEL.MC) drug Yondelis for ovarian cancer, arguing that the Spanish biotech company failed to provide sufficient evidence it is any better than standard treatment.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) rules on which drugs should be paid for on the state-funded National Health Service. Its decisions are followed closely by insurers and governments in other countries.

Paclitaxel in combination with platinum-based chemotherapy is currently the most commonly used therapy for the kind of patients that Zeltia hopes to treat with Yondelis, which is also known as trabectedin.

“Unfortunately, the manufacturer did not provide any evidence directly comparing trabectedin with this combination of drugs,” NICE Chief Executive Andrew Dillon said.

Instead, Zeltia’s drug was compared with less common treatments. NICE experts were also worried that Yondelis was associated with high rates of toxicity on the body’s blood system.

“It was these factors and not necessarily the cost of the treatment that concerned the committee most,” Dillon said.

NICE’s preliminary guidance is available for public consultation until July 9.

Yondelis costs around 24,000 pounds ($35,000) for a year’s treatment, including the cost of an accompanying drug called doxorubicin. ($1=.6820 Pound)

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