After failing to win the backing of the UK cost watchdog for Halaven, Eisai has linked up with Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, to promote the breast cancer drug in central and eastern Europe.

Specifically, Valeant's PharmaSwiss division will distribute Halaven (eribulin) in Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Hungary and Slovenia for the treatment of patients with metastatic breast cancer whose disease has progressed after at least two chemotherapeutic regimens. The marine-derived drug received European Commission approval in March 2011.

The company says it is currently working with Valeant to secure reimbursement of the drug in the CEE markets. and Gary Hendler, Eisai EMEA president, said the partnership means that access to Halaven can happen much faster, as his firm "does not need to establish locally-based offices in each country".

Dismay over NICE stance

Halaven is now available and reimbursed in a number of European countries. but Eisai is still fuming over the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence's final decision not to recommend the drug in England and Wales.

Nick Burgin, European director of market access at Eisai, said the company is "dismayed that NICE has chosen not to rethink its denial of eribulin". He went on to say the agency "is not giving enough support to women with advanced breast cancer and the physicians who want to treat them. We hope that NICE grant a rapid re-review as new data is constantly emerging that will help inform their decision".

Despite the ruling, patients in England can access Halaven via the Government’s Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF).and it is within the top 12 most prescribed drugs through this system. However, the CDF does not extend to patients nationally and Northern Ireland "so unequal access will continue to be a problem", Eisai said.