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In the first sign the U.K. government may be nearing a deal with Vertex Pharmaceuticals over access to its cystic fibrosis medicines, the head of the National Health Service in England indicated he is “increasingly confident” that an agreement can be reached, perhaps within the next month.

Speaking before a Parliamentary committee on Tuesday, NHS chief executive Simon Stevens said “negotiations have intensified in recent times between NHS England and Vertex,” and that “we really haven’t been on the verge (of an agreement) before.” And in response to questions about the possibility of striking a deal in the next four to eight weeks, he added that he foresees “shorter timelines.” (watch here).


Although Stevens cautioned that nothing had been concluded, his remarks are the most concrete signal to date that a four-year-old battle between the government and the drug maker may be nearing an end. And on Monday, Vertex chief executive Jeffrey Leiden told CNBC that talks have “intensified considerably over the last month” and he is “quite optimistic” about reaching an agreement.

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