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For the second time, the UK agency that monitors the cost effectiveness of medicines has decided that a Roche breast cancer drug is too expensive. The decision means that the UK’s National Health Service will not cover the $137,000 per patient cost of the drug for women in Scotland and Wales. However, Roche struck a separate deal so that a special government fund will foot the bill for women in England.

“We recognize that Kadcyla has a place in treating some patients with advanced breast cancer, and we have been as flexible as we can in making our recommendation,” said Andrew Dillon, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence chief executive, in a statement. “However, the price that the manufacturer is asking the NHS to pay in the long-term is too high.”


The decision underscores the growing friction between payers and drug makers over perceived values in an era of tightening government budgets. Prescription drug pricing, of course, is a topic of national debate in the US and has become fodder for the presidential campaign. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 63 percent want government action to lower drug prices.

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