New Cancer Drug May Skip Ireland
By Olivia O’Mahony, Editorial Assistant
August / September 2016
A groundbreaking new melanoma treatment is being rolled out to patients in the U.K., but may never reach those in Ireland. The National Pharmacoeconomics Centre (NCPE), an independent medicine cost advisory board, has recommended that the HSE does not make the Opdivo drug available through the public system due to uncertainty about its financial sustainability.
Research has proven that melanoma patients have a substantially longer life expectancy when taking Opdivo, which, unlike conventional chemotherapy, is administered by a drip. The drug was developed by Bristol Myers Squib, who told the NCPE that Opdivo’s net cost over the first five years will come to €17.6 million. This estimation is based on the drug’s usage being capped at a maximum of two years. However, the NCPE review group found insufficient evidence that the projected discontinuation point would hold true. Even following a revised gross budget submission from Bristol Myers Squib in 2015, the NCPE did not consider Opdivo cost-effective.
A spokeswoman for the HSE said that it was required to manage financial provisions for new medicines in a fair manner, with access being made available to as wide a range of new drugs as sustainably possible.
Opdivo will be reviewed by the National Cancer Control Program Technology Review Committee. If given a positive recommendation, it will be sent to the HSE Drugs Committee for the ultimate ruling on its funding. ♦