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Skin cancer drug Zelboraf turned down for use on the NHS

Published on 15/06/2012

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has made a preliminary decision to turn down a skin cancer drug for use on the NHS.

Melanoma is a form of advanced skin cancer that kills around 2,000 people in the UK each year. Whilst melanoma is rare, it can spread quickly to other organs in the body in a process called metastasis.

Normally, patients suffering from metastatic melanoma do not live for longer than nine months. But new drug Zelboraf has been shown to increase life expectancy to an average of 16 months, as well as significantly improving quality of life.

The drug costs around £1,750 per patient per week.

But the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued draft guidance turning down the drug on the grounds that it is too expensive and the long-term benefits of it are not clear.

Sir Andrew Dillon, chief executive of Nice said: “We need to be sure that new treatments provide sufficient benefits to patients to justify the significant cost the NHS is being asked to pay. Vemurafenib is an expensive drug and its long term benefits are difficult to quantify."

It is the second skin cancer drug denied by NICE within a year after Yervoy was also turned down. The guidance is now open for consultation.

Since Zelboraf and Yervoy are licensed for use in the UK, they will still be available to people with full cancer cover on their health insurance policy.

© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2012


Categories:  Medical
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