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Drug firms slam NICE cancer policy

Pharmaceutical companies have slammed the National Institute for Clinical Excellence's (NICE) policy on cancer drug approval.

The attack comes after professor Sir Michael Rawlins, NICE's chairman, accused drugs firms of driving up the price of medicines to boost profits and protect executive bonuses.

Reacting to Sir Rawlins' comments, Richard Barker, director general of the Association of British Pharmaceutical Companies, said: "Pharmaceutical companies invest an average of more than £500m over more than a decade to bring new medicines to patients.

"If they do not earn a reasonable return on this research and development cost, their investors will not support this, and the supply of modern medicines that enhance and save lives will dry up.

"What NICE fails to mention is that the medicines in question are in common use elsewhere in Europe, where prices are typically higher than they are here in the UK.

"NICE has an important job to do, but they need to adapt their approach for cancer medicines, rather than lay the blame on the process and economics of pharmaceutical innovation."

NICE itself recently faced scathing criticism for refusing to sanction the use of new kidney drugs by the NHS on the grounds of cost.

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