New skin cancer drug may soon be available

A drug that has been hailed for lengthening the lives of sufferer’s of melanoma, the deadly skin cancer, has become a stage closer to becoming made widely available. This will bring some relief to the many people who suffer from the disease.

Ipilimumab, known by its brand name Yervoy, has been licensed for sale inside Europe. It is the only treatment that has been made available for treating advanced stage melanoma since the 1970s. The drug however is not yet approved for use by the NHS, but a trial revealed that the drug can increase survival rates significantly, nearly doubling the chances of survival for one year.

The drug is administered four times over three weeks through an infusion process. It works by encouraging the body’s immune system so that it can better fight the cancer. The cost of a single infusion is £18,000 with the entire cost of treatment averaging £75,000.

Dr Paul Lorigan, an expert in medical oncology who works at the Christie NHS Foundation Trust, has said, “The approval of this treatment represents a major step forward for the patients with melanoma. It is the first drug that can extend their lives that has been approved in thirty years.”