Lupus Drug Rejected By U.K. Health Services
The lupus drug Benlysta has been rejected by the U.K.'s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, which claims that it should not be made available on the National Health Service.
"NICE's independent appraisal committee has looked carefully at the evidence provided on the use of belimumab for treating SLE [systemic lupus erythematosus], including the views of people with the condition, those who represent them, and clinical specialists,” said the Institute’s draft guidance, as quoted by the Wall Street Journal. “The evidence considered did not persuade the committee that belimumab was good value for money, compared to standard care, as the cost per year of improved health is very high."
Benlysta, also known as “belimumab,” has already been granted both U.S. and European marketing approval. It is the attempt in 50 years as a new treatment for the chronic autoimmune disorder, which affects about five million people.
According to NICE, Benlysta should also be compared with rituximab, which is prescribed to some people with severe lupus. Currently, however, there are no data supporting the efficacy of either drug.
According to Simon Jose, General Manager for GlaxoSmithKline U.K., this is a disappointing verdict for lupus patients, who do not have many good treatment options.
"NICE's current methodology means that it is difficult to meet their cost-effectiveness threshold given the nature of the disease and the comparison with unlicensed or cheap generic medicines,” said Jose, as quoted by WSJ. “We had hoped that our offer of a patient access scheme would help overcome these challenges."