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New skin cancer drug licensed in the UK

Published on 22/08/2011

A drug which increases the chance of surviving the deadliest type of skin cancer has been licensed for use in Britain.

Yervoy (ipilimumab) has been awarded a European licence, meaning patients in the UK can access it, although it has not yet been approved for use on the NHS. The new drug is the first advance in treating the disease since the 1970’s.

Every year around 2000 people in the UK who are diagnosed with malignant melanoma do not survive.

Yervoy is injected four times over the course of three weeks, and teaches the body’s immune system to fight malignant melanoma with fewer side effects than traditional chemotherapy.

The drug increases the lifespan of patients by an average of four months once the disease has spread to other organs.

A clinical trial showed that almost half of patients with advanced melanoma were alive after one year compared with 25% who did not receive it.

Rationing body NICE will decide next February if the NHS can afford the drug. The cost of the drug is around £18,000 per infusion, depending on the weight of the patient. Figures have shown the average cost per patient is £75,000.

In the meantime, the North West and the West Midlands have decided it will be available through Government flagship scheme the Cancer Drugs Fund.

Dr Paul Lorigan, Senior Lecturer in Medical Oncology at the Christie NHS Foundation Trust, one of the leading trial centres for ipilimumab, said: ‘The authorisation of ipilimumab represents a real advance in the treatment of patients with advanced melanoma as this is the first treatment for 30 years in the UK to extend patients’ life expectancy.

‘After years of no progress in the treatment of this terrible illness, we have now made a stride forward.’

Private medical cover holders can sometimes have access to expensive drugs that are not available on the NHS. As a licensed drug, it should be funded by Bupa, AXA PPP healthcare, Aviva UK Health and PruHealth, although pre-authorisation is recommended. 

Compare health insurance policies online with ActiveQuote now to make sure you are covered for new cancer treatment.

© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2011

Categories:  Health InsuranceMedical
New skin cancer drug licensed in the UKA drug which increases the chance of surviving the deadliest type of skin cancer has been licensed for use in Britain. Yervoy (ipilimumab    tweet it on twittershare with your friends on Facebookshare with your friends on MySpaceBlog it on your LinkedIn profile

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