Health Will Pay For Roche’s ‘Magic Bullet’ Against Cancer Only When It Gets It Right

The Ministry of Health, at the last meeting of the Price Commission, has decided to give the green light to Roche’s new drug against a type of lymphoma. A ‘magic bullet’ that attacks tumor cells without affecting the rest and that will be marketed under the name Polivy.

The company and the administration have reached a pioneering financing agreement, in which it will only be paid in full if the therapy fulfills its objective and makes the cancer disappear from the patient. The medication will be evaluated six to eight weeks after completing the treatment.

According to preliminary studies by the pharmaceutical company, the drug usually meets the total goal in 40% of cases, but on average doubles patient survival with the drugs that have been used so far (from five months to more than twelve). “It is about conceiving a system that reconciles innovation with rapid access and the sustainability of the health system,” explained Federico Plaza, director of Government Affairs at Roche Spain.

The agreement is limited to the method of payment for results. If you get a full referral, the public health service will pay the amount for the drug. In the event that the patient does not respond, Roche will not charge for the drug. The maximum price, for now, has not transpired.

In any case, what is known is that the price is dynamic, that is, it may vary over time. It has been included in the tool available to the Ministry of Health for drugs with high economic impact (Valtermed) and depending on its results in real life, it will be reviewed annually.

The drug from the Swiss multinational currently has a conditional approval from the European Medicines Agency (a category similar to that given to vaccines against Covid). In Spain, it has been decided to offer this therapy in the second line together with chemotherapy. According to the company’s calculations, this means being able to offer it to 15% of patients with this type of lymphoma, which implies “several hundred”.

However, this is just the beginning. Roche already has new clinical results on its hands that would show a greater potential for the drug. They will be presented in December and if expectations are met, the drug would achieve two important things for business development: it can be given to all patients (even in the first line) and the procedures can be started to have the full approval of the agencies regulatory.

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