Janssen’s decision to offer the NHS a discount for its oral prostate cancer treatment Zytiga appears to have paid off, giving the drug a boost and head start over potential rivals in the EU.
The second time turned out to be the charm for Janssen Inc.’s Zytiga (arbiratone): on May 16, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence of England reversed its negative recommendation for the second-line treatment for castration-resistant metastatic prostate cancer. Unsurprisingly, a significant discount appears to have done the trick for Janssen and – together with the recent positive decision from Germany’s IQWiG – catapults the drug towards securing a meaningful portion of the European prostate cancer market.
Whilst NICE’s change of heart in the Final Appraisal Determination appears to be a giant U-turn, the reality is that a positive recommendation was always plausible, provided Janssen was prepared to lower its price. Once again, though, this provides skeptics within the industry with more ammunition to argue that NICE focuses far too much on cost and far too little on clinical effectiveness.
In fact, Janssen was always onto a winner with Zytiga, as NICE acknowledged, because the drug offers a step change in treatment due to its oral administration, which allows a patient to take it at home. Zytiga is the first oral therapy to be licensed in patients who have metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer and who have failed chemotherapy. “There are other oral therapies in prostate cancer but they are used in other stages of the patients’ treatment pathway,” a spokesperson for Janssen noted.
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