NHS England strikes deal with Orkambi manufacturer

Orkambi protest

Patients with cystic fibrosis in England will now have access to three new drugs on the NHS, following an agreement between the manufacturer and the government.

While details of the two-year deal with Vertex Pharmaceuticals are being kept confidential, NHS England announced on 24 October 2019 that patients are guaranteed access to Orkambi  (ivacaftor/lumacaftor), Symkevi (tezacaftor/ivacaftor) and Kalydeco (ivacaftor) within 30 days.

The drugs can be prescribed for all current licensed indications, as well as future licence extensions. It is estimated around 5,000 people will benefit.

Under the terms of the managed access agreement, Vertex will provide the drug to the NHS at a reduced cost.

Vertex will also provide the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) with all the data it has on these drugs so that NICE can complete an appraisal, expected by September 2021.

Matt Hancock, health and social care secretary, said: “The deal is great value for money for the NHS, and crucially, will improve thousands of lives.”

The deal may bring an end to the three-year battle between Vertex and the government over access to the cystic fibrosis combination treatment, Orkambi, which the company had priced at £104,000 per NHS patient per year.

NICE ruled in 2016 that the product should not be made available on the NHS on the grounds that its cost was not justified by the benefits of the treatment.

The deal has been welcomed by patient group the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, which has long campaigned for access to these drugs. It pledged to continue its fight to ensure the products were also available to people in Wales and Northern Ireland.



Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, November 2019, Vol 303, No 7931;303(7931):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2019.20207244

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