Pfizer, Bristol Drug Wins NICE Nod for Irregular Heartbeats

Jan. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Pfizer Inc. and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.’s Eliquis won the backing of the U.K.’s health-cost regulator for people with an irregular heartbeat, putting the drug in line to be the third new treatment recommended for such patients in the past year.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence issued draft guidance recommending the blood thinner to prevent strokes in patients with atrial fibrillation, the agency said today in an e-mailed statement. NICE asked patients and doctors to talk before using Eliquis about whether to choose one of the other two new drugs or the older medicine warfarin instead.

Eliquis will compete with Bayer AG and Johnson & Johnson’s Xarelto and Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH’s Pradaxa to replace warfarin, a decades-old medicine that had previously been the standard of care for people with an erratic heartbeat. Both of the other drugs won a recommendation from NICE last year.

“The appraisal committee heard from patient experts that warfarin can have a greater impact on a person’s quality of life than atrial fibrillation itself,” Carole Longson, director of NICE’s Health Technology Evaluation Centre, said in the statement, citing the older drug’s interactions with food, alcohol and other medicines, and the regular monitoring it requires.

NICE, which advises the state-run National Health Service on getting medical value for its money, said it will probably issue final guidance on Eliquis, also known as apixaban, in February. The agency recommended the pill in January 2012 for people who have undergone hip or knee replacement surgery.

The recommendation “confirms the value of apixaban as a cost-effective oral anticoagulant,” Amadou Diarra, vice president of the U.K. and Ireland for Bristol-Myers, said in an e-mailed statement.

More than 46,000 new cases of atrial fibrillation are diagnosed in the U.K. each year, according to the NHS.

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To contact the editor responsible for this story: Phil Serafino at