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NICE and IQWiG nix Benlysta
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NICE and IQWiG nix Benlysta

07.05.2012 - Healthcare cost watchdogs are not convinced by GSK’s Lupus drug Benlysta: British NICE and German IQWiG have recommended against the drug.

Cologne/London – “No additional benefit documented” – With these harsh words the German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG) rebuffed GSK’s Lupus antibody belimumab (Benlysta). Under the new, tougher German reimbursement regime, the Institute evaluates newly approved drugs for their additional medical benefit and issues a draft benefit assessment. That decision could mean a large, forced discount to Benlysta's price on the German market.

Although Benlysta is the first new treatment for lupus for decades, it has been slow to take off so far. Negative assessments as form NICE and IQWiG won’t help to improve the situation. GSK, Britain's biggest drugmaker, said on Thursday that the judgment from IQWiG was "completely inexplicable from a medical point of view and disregards genuine progress in therapy".

The drug was discovered by Human Genome Science (HGS) and developed jointly with GSK. In mid-April GSK offered to acquire the US-based biotech company for $2,3b. HGS’ management refused the offer, stating, it “does not reflect value inherent in company“.

„Their case for a higher bid seems to be based on the market potential of Benlysta, but the arguing has begun over how realistic those hopes are“, stated Drug discovery Chemist Derek Lowe. Besides Benlysta, HGS might bank on albiglutide (Diabetes) and darapladib (Artheroslcerosis), which are currently undergoing Phase III trials, which could bring significant revenues if approved.

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