NEW YORK (AP) - Britain's National Health Service announced that it wouldn't be covering Benlysta, Human Genome Sciences' new lupus drug.
The National Institute for Clinical Excellence, a unit of the U.K.'s publicly funded National Health Service, recommended that the NHS not cover Benlysta because the effectiveness of the drug did not justify the expense. If the National Health Service adopts the recommendation, it will not pay for treatment with Benlysta and patients.
GlaxoSmithKline PLC, Human Genome Science's marketing partner, called the recommendation "very disappointing."
"Many current treatments available on the NHS can have undesirable effects, either from chronic use, or side effects associated with immunosuppression," the British drugmaker said in a statement. "A significant number of patients with advanced lupus do not respond to current treatments, even at high doses."
Human Genome Sciences, of Rockville, Md., has said that in the U.S., a year of treatment with Benlysta will cost $40,000 for the first year and $35,000 per year after that.
Benlysta was approved in the U.S. in March and in the European Union in July. Analysts have predicted billions of dollars in annual revenue for the drug, but sales have not been as strong as Human Genome Sciences and GlaxoSmithKline expected.
JMP Securities analyst Liisa Bayko said the agency was not convinced Benlysta works better than Rituxan, a cancer drug that is not approved to treat lupus but is often used off-label. Bayko said she no longer expects any Benlysta sales in the U.K. She trimmed her price target to $22 per share from $23, but kept a "Market Outperform" rating.
Date: October 3, 2011
Source: Associated Press