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British watchdog rejects GSK's lupus drug again

The GlaxoSmithKline building is pictured in Hounslow, west London June 18, 2013.REUTERS/Luke MacGregor
The GlaxoSmithKline building is pictured in Hounslow, west London June 18, 2013.REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's healthcare cost watchdog has rejected GlaxoSmithKline's lupus drug Benlysta a second time after the company offered an undisclosed discount, saying it still failed to offer good value for money.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) reconsidered its earlier rejection of funding for the drug, the first new treatment for the condition in half a century, after an appeal by the manufacturer.

NICE recommends which drugs should be funded by Britain's state health service.

"We understand that it will be disappointing that this draft guidance doesn't recommend belimumab (Benlysta)," NICE Chief Executive Andrew Dillon said on Wednesday.

"This draft decision is because the evidence considered did not persuade the Committee that belimumab was good value for money compared with standard care."

Lupus is an incurable condition that causes the immune system to attack healthy tissue and organs. It mainly affects women and is more common among women of African Caribbean origin than any other group. About 15,000 people in England and Wales have the condition.

NICE said the price per dose of the drug before the discount was 769.50 pounds ($1,200), with three doses required in the first four weeks and one every four weeks thereafter.

Benlysta has been approved in the United States, Canada and Europe.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Tom Pfeiffer)