Britain’s health care watchdog, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), has temporarily endorsed the use of the expensive Sovaldi pill for hepatitis C treatment in some patients. The endorsement came following the move of drug manufacturer Gilead Sciences to provide more information to the agency.
Gathered reports said NICE Centre for Health Technology Evaluation director Carole Longson recommended Sovaldi as a cost-effective treatment for selected patients suffering from chronic hepatitis C, a decision well received by Gilead.
NICE “considered the additional evidence it requested from the manufacturer and we are pleased to be able to provisionally recommend [Sovaldi] as a clinically and cost-effective treatment for some people with chronic hepatitis C,” she said.
Only some British taxpayers with the disease can reimburse from their government the cost of the pill at nearly $700 each, however. This is because NICE doesn’t think their government should shoulder the expenses for patients with type 1, referred to as the most common type of hepatitis C, as well as for patients who can’t tolerate Sovaldi with interferon. Reason for this is the higher cost for this patient bracket.
Though the recommendation is an initial move that still needs final endorsement, Longson said to Bloomberg that Sovaldi could encourage more patients to get treatment because many people either don’t finish the entire course of treatment or are hesitant to pursue any treatment at all.
Sovaldi, together with ribarivin and interferon, is recommended to adults with type 1 and type 3 of the disease. In England, type 1 makes up for around 46 percent of its cases, while type 3 accounts for 43 percent.
There’s an exception to the rule for type 3 sufferers, according to the UK agency. They can only qualify if they have tried other more affordable therapies first or have scarring of the liver. They may also get Sovaldi without the interferon.
Meanwhile, for those with type 2 that is in general easily treatable over other types, they may take Sovaldi with ribarivin alone if interferon’s side effects are too much for them to tolerate.
NICE likewise reiterated that the drug isn’t cost-effective to types 4, 5, and 6.
Recall that NICE advised Gilead to bring back more data with them in June to get support for the use of the hepatitis C pill worth $1,000 each. The pricey cost of the medication has incurred debates and protests in the U.S.
Gilead, however, argued that the expensive price of Sovaldi only validates the ability of the drug to a near-guarantee cure, ability to reduce the expenses of patients for treatment as compared to hospital-based therapy and fewer health side effects.