Glaxo wins approval for flu drug on NHS

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The Independent Online

Glaxo Wellcome, Britain's largest pharmaceutical company, has breached the defences of NICE, the quango which decides whether the National Health Service should pay for drugs, by winning partial approval for Relenza, its controversial flu treatment.

Glaxo Wellcome, Britain's largest pharmaceutical company, has breached the defences of NICE, the quango which decides whether the National Health Service should pay for drugs, by winning partial approval for Relenza, its controversial flu treatment.

The move overturns NICE's existing ruling that Relenza treatment should not be funded by the NHS. Relenza costs £24 for a five-day course. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence yesterday said it would reveal on 23 October the results of a review of its opinion of Relenza. It is believed NICE has been persuaded by new clinical data, submitted by Glaxo in May, to recommend the NHS funds Relenza for "at risk" patients such as the over-65s and people with respiratory conditions. The move follows reports the NHS is facing a shortage of flu vaccine ahead of the winter.

Britain suffered a flu epidemic after NICE said there was insufficient data to show Relenza was effective for at risk patients last October. Glaxo had argued Relenza should be used as a blanket preventative treatment. While as many as 6 million patients could benefit, the move is unlikely to prompt revisions to financial forecasts for Glaxo.

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