Use it or lose it. A UK politician is urging the National Health Service (NHS) to increase use of the antiplatelet drug ticagrelor (trade name Brilinta in the US, Brilique and Possia in the EU) in order to prevent the loss of British jobs.
Like nearly all the major pharmaceutical companies, AstraZeneca has been fighting a difficult cycle of patent expirations and unsuccessful new drugs, leading to repeated rounds of layoffs. But, according to the Manchester Evening News, the UK-based company, with the help of UK politicians, is seeking to turn lemons into lemonade. Science Minister David Willetts is lobbying the National Health Service (NHS) “to increase its use of an AstraZeneca heart medicine, amid mounting political concern about the drugs company’s commitment to British jobs.
The minister, according to the paper, “has urged health officials to accelerate the uptake of Brilique [ticagrelor], a blood thinner used to treat patients suffering from severe angina or heart attacks, which has sold poorly despite winning a green light from the NHS’s cost-effectiveness watchdog in 2011.
AstraZeneca said although it invests heavily in producing new drugs in this country, it’s difficult to persuade primary healthcare trusts to adopt new costly medicines.
The group added: “Despite this recommendation and the NHS target of reducing the mortality rate from cardiovascular disease, it is currently only routinely available to patients in some parts of England.
“We share the NHS and the Government’s objective of broadening patient access to innovative medicines and continue to engage in dialogue.”