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Not just India: UK regulator says Roche’s new breast cancer drug too costly

It’s not just countries like India that find Big Pharma’s cancer drugs prohibitively expensive.

The National Institute for Care and Excellence (NICE) of the UK has  rejected Roche’s latest breast cancer drug Perjeta because it is too expensive, reports New Statesman.

The report said that according to NICE, the drug is not cost-effective for the UK’s National Health Services (NHS)

Roche-ReutersAccording to Roche, Perjeta is a breakthrough since its its last breast cancer drug Herceptin.

In India, Herceptin costs 6-8 lakhs for a course and health activists have been campaigning for revoking its patent so that local companies can make its bio-similar versions that are affordable to the majority.

Roche raised a stink early this week when the Kolkata patent office rejected two of its “divisional” applications that were filed on top of its original patent application. Health activists want the patent on Herceptin to be revoked in India because it’s a pre-1995 molecule and the health ministry appeared to be have been receptive early this year.

The NICE’s decision makes it very clear that the Big Pharma’s price arguments do not cut much ice even in rich countries. Reportedly, NICE had also rejected another breast cancer drug, Afinitor, from Novartis.

Early last year, India had revoked the patent of Nexavar, a kidney and liver cancer drug by Novartis, which brought down its price from Rs 2.8 lakh to Rs 6000.

The decisions by NICE are big blows to both Roche and Novartis and should encourage the commerce and health ministries as well as the patent offices in India.

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