Medicare plans to cover Dendreon’s Provenge

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Men in the U.S. Medicare health insurance program will get full coverage of Dendreon Corp’s prostate cancer therapy under a proposed payment decision by U.S. regulators announced on Wednesday.

In its proposal, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said there is adequate evidence to pay for Provenge’s approved use in men with advanced prostate cancer.

The agency also said there is “insufficient evidence” for use of the vaccine treatment in other settings.

Medicare coverage of Provenge, which costs $93,000, is key since the disease strikes mostly older men. The program covers those aged 65 and older along with the disabled, and about 40 percent of its 46 million enrollees are men.

A final decision is expected by June 30.

Analysts have said they expect Medicare’s decision to help streamline the reimbursement process for the vaccine that right now varies region to region.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Provenge, also known as sipuleucel-T, last year for certain men with advanced prostate cancer.

Unlike traditional vaccines, Provenge does not prevent disease. Instead, it treats prostate cancer by stimulating the body’s own immune system to attack malignant cells.

Provenge could see more than $2 billion in global sales by 2015, according to consensus analyst forecast data from Thomson Reuters.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey and Deena Beasley; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

Medicare plans to cover Dendreon’s Provenge