Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Roche Breast Cancer Drug Fails to Win U.K. Backing

  • U.K. cost adviser says evidence of long-term benefits needed
  • Perjeta costs at least $10,500 depending on treatment cycles

Roche Holding AG’s Perjeta treatment for breast cancer failed to win the backing of the U.K.’s health-cost adviser, the latest salvo in an ongoing struggle between Britain and the world’s biggest maker of cancer medicines over prices.

In draft guidelines published Friday, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence said the medicine isn’t recommended for use with Roche’s Herceptin and chemotherapy before surgery when the cancer is locally advanced, inflammatory or at high risk of returning.

More evidence of Perjeta’s long-term clinical benefits is needed, particularly on patients’ overall survival, NICE said in a statement. NICE also cited “uncertainties with the economic data presented by the company.” Patients receiving Perjeta now should continue treatment until they or their doctors decide it’s appropriate to stop, NICE said.

NICE advises the state-run National Health Service on which treatments represent value for money. The total cost of treatment with Perjeta ranges from 7,185 pounds ($10,500) to 16,765 pounds, depending on how many cycles of treatment are needed.

Basel, Switzerland-based Roche, as well as health professionals and members of the public, are able to comment on the draft until June 13. Final guidance on Perjeta is due in September, NICE said.

Roche said last month that it’s open to discussing ways to set prices for tumor-fighting treatments in the U.K., signaling that the world’s biggest maker of cancer drugs will seek to avoid a repeat of last year’s heated dispute with authorities over the cost of two key medicines.

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