Top-down solution to the U.K. Orkambi debacle

How a meeting between Vertex and U.K. Health Secretary could break the Orkambi impasse

Cystic fibrosis patients hope that a meeting on Monday between Vertex and the U.K. Health Secretary will break the deadlock that has prevented reimbursement of Orkambi by NHS.

If it works out, patients in England will gain access to the drug while the parties continue to hammer out an agreement on pricing -- a major step forward for one of the largest CF populations in the world, which has been locked out of the most promising treatment yet for the disease.

The reimbursement fight has been going on for over three years, since Orkambi lumacaftor/ivacaftor received European approval in November 2015.

In that time, Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. reached pricing agreements for Orkambi in eight European countries (see Figure: “Orkambi European Reimbursement”).

At a House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee hearing on March 7, neither party showed willingness to budge. NHS England stuck to a previous offer many consider lowball, and Vertex refused to change its counter-proposal offered last summer, which it characterized as the best price for Orkambi

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