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A long-running effort to provide coverage in the U.K. for a cystic fibrosis drug has reached an impasse as health officials maintain the price offered by Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX) is “unsupportable,” while the company called their position “outrageous” and “unconscionable.”

At issue is the Orkambi treatment, which was determined not to be cost effective by the U.K.’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. As a result, the National Health Service in England is refusing to provide coverage unless Vertex lowers the price. About 10,400 people suffer from cystic fibrosis in the U.K., and more than 116,000 people have signed an online petition demanding NHS coverage.


Following the latest round of talks earlier this week, the NHS released a pointed statement saying that “NICE has been clear that Vertex’s pricing is unsupportable. If Vertex really believe(s) they are offering a reasonable deal, they should waive their confidentiality clause and let patients and taxpayers judge whether it is fair.” An NHS spokesman declined further comment.

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