Drug to prolong lives of skin cancer patients

Washington: For all those people who are suffering from the deadly skin cancer melanoma, the invention of a drug that can prolong lives might bring some relief.

The drug, hailed as the first to prolong the lives of patients suffering from the deadly skin cancer, is a step closer to being made widely available.

Yervoy (ipilimumab) has been awarded a European licence, which means patients in the UK can access it, although it has not yet been approved for use on the NHS.

The drug is the first treatment since the 1970s for advanced melanoma in patients, which have previously received another therapy.

Data from a clinical trial showed that 46 per cent of patients treated with the drug were still alive after one year compared to 25 per cent receiving another treatment.

Ipilimumab stimulates the body`s own immune system to fight cancer and patients receive one infusion every three weeks for a total of four infusions.

The cost of the drug is around 18,000 pounds per infusion, depending on the weight of the patient. Figures have shown the average cost per patient is 75,000 pounds.

"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," the Scotsman quoted Dr Paul Lorigan, senior lecturer in medical oncology from the Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester, as saying.

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


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