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British body rejects new Roche breast cancer drug over price

ZURICH (Reuters) - A new drug from Roche for women with an incurable form of breast cancer is too expensive for routine use on Britain's state-run health service even after a discount, the country's healthcare cost watchdog ruled on Friday.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) said it was "disappointed" Roche had decided against offering Kadcyla at a price that would make it affordable for routine use on the National Health Service (NHS).

NICE, which is responsible for deciding if drugs should be used on the NHS, originally called for Roche to reduce the price of Kadcyla in April.

This second rebuff forms part of a growing debate among healthcare authorities in Europe about the high price of modern medicines, especially those for treating cancer.

Kadcyla, which was granted approval in Europe last November, is a treatment for women with so-called HER2 positive breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, cannot be surgically removed and has stopped responding to initial treatment.

The drug carries a cell-killing payload directly into cancer cells, causing fewer cases of common chemotherapy side effects like hair loss. It is estimated to cost 90,831 pounds ($152,800) per patient for a course of treatment at full price.

"Although Roche proposed a discount to the full list price of Kadcyla, it made little difference to its value for money, leaving it well above the top of our specially extended range of cost effectiveness for cancer drugs," NICE Chief Executive Andrew Dillon said in a statement.

Roche said it had offered a "significant" discount and would appeal the decision.

"Refusing patients access to this drug is an incredible injustice and tantamount to turning the clock back in cancer research and development," Jayson Dallas, general manager of Roche Products Limited said in a statement.

(1 US dollar = 0.5946 British pound)

(Reporting by Caroline Copley. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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