GlaxoSmithKline claimed that new cancer treatments are being delayed to save money. "Strategic thoughtfulness" was being lost in the "stampede" to cut costs, GSK chief Sir Andrew Witty said. It was a Europe-wide problem as governments coped with austerity and got more anxious about debts, he added.
Mr Witty, the head of the pharmaceutical company, told the BBC: "We're seeing oncology drugs being systematically delayed from introduction and reimbursement. "We're seeing a variety of the more innovative, and yes more expensive medicines, being delayed in a whole series of different diseases across Europe."
Prof Jonathan Waxman, professor of Oncology at Imperial College London, said Nice had blocked a number of new cancer drugs offering "significant benefits" to patients.
"Unfortunately, the committee that regulates their availability in the UK has ruled against many of them. And they've ruled against them on the basis of what many oncologists, many doctors, many cancer doctors believe are unfair grounds."
The Department of Health, meanwhile, countered "...drug companies need to look hard at the high costs they are asking of the health service for their latest treatments."
Alan Maynard, a professor of health economics, argued drug firms were demanding much higher prices than were reasonable, and the economies were justified. "Nice are looking for good evidence and the industry is rather poor in doing good trialhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifs and telling us about the full effectiveness - which is often marginal," he said. "I think it's quite inevitable that in a period of austerity there will be downward pressure on the introduction of new drugs that are not demonstrably good in terms of improving patient health and which are extraordinarily expensive."
GlaxoSmithKline reported pre-tax profits of £1.9bn during the three months to the end of December 2011, up from a £193m loss during the same period in 2010. For the whole year, the firm reported pre-tax profit of £8.2bn, up from £4.5bn in 2010.