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UK price watchdog recommends Eli Lilly breast cancer drug in draft guidance

The U.K. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommended Eli Lilly and Co.'s Verzenio for treating certain breast cancer patients.

In a draft guidance, the drug price watchdog gave the nod to Verzenio, combined with an aromatase inhibitor, for treating locally advanced or metastatic — which means the cancer has spread across the body — hormone receptor-positive, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-negative, or HR+/HER2-, breast cancer as first endocrine-based therapy.

Verzenio, or abemaciclib, belongs to a class of drugs called CDK4/6 inhibitors which work by blocking a person's estrogen production, preventing the substance from stimulating the growth of certain cancers. The drug is branded as Verzenios in Europe.

NICE recommends the therapy only if Eli Lilly provides the drug under a discount arranged between the drugmaker and the U.K. agency. The pricing watchdog previously rejected Verzenio because of cost concerns.

The U.K. body also concluded that Verzenio is as effective as Pfizer Inc.'s Ibrance and Novartis AG's Kisqali in treating HR+/HER2- breast cancer that has spread across the patient's body. Ibrance and Kisqali were both recommended by the U.K. regulator in November 2017 when Pfizer and Novartis agreed to discounts on the therapies.

Eli Lilly estimates about 8,000 would be eligible for treatment with Verzenio.

Verzenio is also approved in the U.S. for certain breast cancer patients.

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