GlaxoSmithKline is seeking to re-open talks with the Department of Health aimed at reversing the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence’s preliminary decision that its cancer treatment Tyverb (lapatinib) should not be made available on the National Health Service to patients with advanced or metastatic breast cancer who have failed to respond to other treatments, reports the Financial Times.

The cost of treating these patients with Tyverb, in combination with Roche’s Xeloda (capecitabine), would cost nearly £21,000 per patient each year, which does not represent a cost-effective use of NHS resources, NICE’s appraisal committee concluded in preliminary findings announced in early July. In June, European Union (EU) regulators had approved the use of Tyverb in combination with Xeloda in these patients.

However, GSK believes that NICE’s concerns over Tyverb’s cost can be resolved by setting a fixed price for its use, no matter how many NHS patients receive it. Discussions on the company’s proposal have failed so far because of problems with coordinating the drug’s use across the NHS and also switching patients onto it who have failed to respond to Roche’s Herceptin (trastuzumab), reports the FT.

The consultation period for receiving comments on the Institute’s preliminary findings closed on July 28, and NICE’s Appraisal Committee will now hold a second meeting to review Tyverb on September 18.

Plans advisory investment board
Last month, GSK’s new chief executive Andrew Witty announced that the firm has begun consultations with national regulators around Europe in order to help it determine which compounds in its R&D pipeline it should be prioritising. Last week, he discussed another initiative - the setting-up of an investment board of outsiders such as venture capitalists and biotechnology company executives, who would examine the potential for compounds in GSK’s pipeline with the company’s researchers and marketing staff. The board members’ remuneration would be based, in part, on how successful their recommendations turn out to be, said Mr Witty, who was speaking in Philadelphia.