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The battle between U.K. authorities and Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX) over the cost of its cystic fibrosis medicines took another twist as the drug maker declined to provide information about its newest treatment to a cost-effectiveness watchdog. In doing so, the company is delaying the approval process used to make the new treatment available to patients.

The move is the latest bit of brinkmanship between the drug maker and government officials, who have been haggling for more than two years. And the impasse underscores the rising friction that can occur when cash-strapped governments confront high-priced medicines, an issue that is engulfing a growing number of countries, prompting patients to complain they have become pawns.


“This is awful news for thousands of people in the U.K. with cystic fibrosis and it is a situation that I find deeply concerning,” David Ramsden, who heads the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, wrote in a tweet. “In the USA, they have been able to get (Symdeko) since February, but this action makes access in the U.K. seem even more distant. … Every day that people in the U.K. are unable to access new precision medicines is a day too long and it means people who could see their lives prolong are dying.”

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  • this is ridiculous. Orkambi is clearly a drug that prolongs life for people who respond to it, and improves quality of life as well. Both parties have culpability here. And patients are left dangling. Let’s get this done people!

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