Ipilimumab, the first new treatment for advanced skin cancer since the 70′s, is an injectant that teaches the body’s immune system to fight back against melanoma. The substance must be injected four times, and 46% of the patients who used the treatment were still alive a year after- that’s nearly twice as many as those who didn’t receive the drug (25%).
The new drug (a form of immunotherapy) is much more effective at tackling melanomas, and also provides the patient with fewer side effects. The four injections are received as one every three weeks.
The European Medicine Agency has granted the drug licensing approval, but it’s effectiveness and value for money is still being assessed by NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence), so it isn’t yet widely available on the NHS.
Richard Clifford, a trustee of the skin cancer charity SKCIN, said: “A diagnosis of metastatic melanoma is devastating news for anyone to receive. We have long awaited the arrival of new effective treatment options, which makes today’s news very welcome.”
Patients wishing to receive the drug, which is marketed by Yervoy, can apply to the Government’s Cancer Drugs Fund. For the four injections, treatment costs around £75,000.
Written exclusively for The Life Dept| Live Longer | 22 August 2011 | providers of life insurance, critical illness insurance and income protection