Vertex’s upcoming UK hearing for Orkambi reimbursement could perturb other EU access discussions though “crown use” threat unlikely, experts say

15 Feb 2019

An upcoming UK parliamentary select committee hearing on 7 March regarding reimbursement of Vertex Pharmaceuticals’ (NASDAQ:VRTX) cystic fibrosis (CF) drug Orkambi (lumacaftor/ivacaftor) is likely to reveal confidential pricing negotiations, which could impact Vertex’s other European payer agreements and subsequent rare disease drug reimbursement negotiations.

Vertex has kept payer discussions confidential to allow for a competitive environment, but parliamentary powers of a select committee hearing could require it to divulge details of negotiations with the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK. The select meeting was announced on 24 January to “explore the current impasse between Vertex, NHS England and NICE concerning negotiations on the availability of Orkambi and other CF drugs to NHS patients in England.”

Reimbursement consultants described the organization of such a select committee hearing as wholly unprecedented. One consultant said he knows of payer authorities from other countries closely following the proceedings, while others also anticipated countries to want to re-evaluate their own agreements with Vertex, based on information from the hearing. Other experts anticipated an impact on negotiations with other companies in the rare disease space.

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