Roche skin cancer drugs 'too expensive', says UK cost agency

Roche's two-drug combination of Cotellic and Zelboraf for melanoma was rejected by Britain's healthcare cost agency NICE as "too expensive" on Thursday, in contrast to the green light given in April to a rival cocktail from Novartis.

Both treatments are designed for people with advanced disease who have a particular genetic profile, known as BRAF V600 mutation-positive melanoma.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) said Roche's combination offered life-extending benefits but compared to alternatives it cost too much.

The list prices of the two drugs in Britain are 4,275.67 pounds ($6,022) and 7,000 respectively for 28 days, although Roche would have offered a discount for Zelboraf.

By comparison, the list price of Novartis' Mekinist and Tafinlar combined is 10,080 pounds, and Novartis also offered a discount.

The size of discounts offered to NICE are commercially confidential.

(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Mark Potter)