-UK cost agency not ready to back Gilead hepatitis C drug

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LONDON – Britain’s healthcare cost-effectiveness watchdog NICE said on Monday it needed more information about Gilead Sciences’ pricey new hepatitis C Sovaldi before deciding if it should be used on state health service.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) said it was “minded to recommend” the drug, which is also known as sofosbuvir. The decision poses a hurdle to its widespread adoption in Britain.

“The available evidence shows sofosbuvir is an effective treatment for chronic hepatitis C in certain patients,” said Carole Longson, director the NICE Centre for Health Technology Evaluation.

“However, evidence is lacking for some subgroups of patients with chronic hepatitis C, and there are also substantial uncertainties in the evidence base presented by the manufacturer.”

Sovaldi is far more effective and better-tolerated than older treatments, but its cost has provoked criticism from healthcare campaigners and insurers. (Reuters)