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European approval recommended for new skin cancer drug Zelboraf after doubling survival time

Published on 23/02/2012

A new treatment for skin cancer that almost doubles survival time will soon be available for patients with private medical insurance.

New skin cancer treatment could almost double survival time

Zelboraf (Vemurafenib) has been recommended for approval in Europe, after an international study showed that malignant melanoma patients treated with the drug gained several extra months of life.

Malignant melanoma is a type of aggressive and dangerous skin cancer, believed to be caused by over-exposure to the sun or sunbeds. Every year around 2,000 people in the UK who are diagnosed with malignant melanoma do not survive.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, looked at 132 patients in the US and Australia who were given the drug Zelboraf.

The risk of mortality was lowered by 63% in patients who received Zelboraf. It greatly improved life expectancy with an overall survival rate of 13.2 months. Chemotherapy treatment usually gives patients a 9.6 month window of life expectancy after treatment.

Zelboraf targets tumours that express a certain gene mutation, which account for about half of patients with malignant melanoma.

Zelboraf became the first and only FDA approved medicine for improving survival rates among people with this particular mutation in 2011. Other countries which have recently approved the use of the drug include Israel, Brazil, Switzerand and New Zealand.

Now, according to the European Medicines Agency, the drug has been recommended for approval in Europe, pending final authorisation by the European Commission.

Cancer Research UK said once the drug was awarded a European license it would be available to patients by applying through the Cancer Drugs Fund or through private medical cover, before being assessed by NICE for use on the NHS.

Kate Law, director of clinical and population research at Cancer Research UK, said: "it will be interesting to see what price the manufacturer charges so as not to place too great a strain on already scarce NHS resources."

To make sure you are able to access Zelboraf and other cancer drugs compare health insurance online now- private medical insurance will cover you for licensed drugs even if they aren’t available on the NHS.

© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2012

Categories:  Medical
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