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UK cost agency not ready to back Gilead hepatitis C drug

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's healthcare cost-effectiveness watchdog NICE said on Monday it needed more information about Gilead Sciences' pricey new hepatitis C drug Sovaldi before deciding if it should be used on the state health service.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) said it was "minded not to recommend" the drug, which is also known as sofosbuvir. The decision poses a hurdle to its widespread adoption in Britain.

“The available evidence shows that sofosbuvir is an effective treatment for chronic hepatitis C in certain patients," said Carole Longson, director of the NICE Centre for Health Technology Evaluation.

"However, evidence is lacking for some subgroups of patients with chronic hepatitis C, and there are also substantial uncertainties in the evidence base presented by the manufacturer."

Sovaldi is far more effective and better-tolerated than older treatments, but its high cost has provoked criticism from healthcare campaigners and insurers.

The U.S. price for a 12-week course of treatment with Sovaldi is $84,000, or $1,000 for each once-daily pill. The price in Britain has been set lower at around 35,000 pounds ($58,800). ($1 = 0.5956 British Pounds)

(Reporting by Ben Hirschler, editing by Louise Heavens)

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