Have a Nice day? Pfizer in court clash with British drug authority - Independent on Sunday
"The world's largest pharmaceutical company will next month square off with Nice, the government drug-rationing body, in an unprecedented showdown in the High Court.
The case, lodged by American drugs giant Pfizer and marketing partner Eisai of Japan, marks the first time that the Government's National Institute for Clinical Health and Excellence, the entity that recommends whether drugs should be reimbursed by the NHS, has been put in the dock.
It is the clearest sign yet of a growing clash between the pharmaceutical industry and the Government over the latter's efforts to reduce the £11bn that it spends every year on medicines.
"You could look at this as a line in the sand," said a Pfizer spokesman. "This goes beyond a purely financial or commercial objective. This is about Nice itself and how they operate."
The row stems from an initial decision by Nice in 2005 to withdraw approval for the NHS to buy a class of four drugs used to treat patients with Alzheimer's disease. One of the four was Aricept, which was developed by Eisai and is co-marketed by Pfizer. The move sparked a storm of controversy, forcing Nice to reconsider its position. Last year, it gave its final appraisal, which largely stuck to the first ruling.
However, it said in its latest ruling that those in the moderate phase of the disease, rather than in the early or very late stages, would qualify. That left most of the 700,000 dementia and Alzheimer's sufferers in the UK ineligible for NHS-funded treatment.
Nice's argument was that the drugs simply were not effective enough to give good "value for money". "
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