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New drug that targets melanoma approved by NICE

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Guidance has been issued by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommending another drug in the battle against a serious type of skin cancer.

The final guidance from NICE endorses the use of dabrafenib, also known as Tafinlar, for the treatment of melanoma that tests positive for changes in the BRAF V600 gene and has spread to other organs in the body or cannot be completely removed by surgery.

“We are pleased to add dabrafenib to the list of options available for this type of skin cancer”

Carole Longson

The drug, a biological therapy that is marketed by pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, works by causing cancer cells with the BRAF V600 mutation to die. This can slow or stop the growth of the cancer completely.

Professor Carole Longson, director of NICE’s centre for health technology evaluation director, believes dabrafenib will have a positive impact.

“For a long time the treatments available for skin cancer which has spread have been very limited,” she said.

“However, in recent years a number of breakthrough treatments that potentially significantly improve the prognosis for some people with malignant melanoma have become available.”

She added: “NICE has already recommended vemurafenib and ipilimumab and we are pleased to add dabrafenib to the list of options available for this type of skin cancer.”

Dabrafenib reportedly works just as well as vemurafenib when it comes to targeting melanoma, while it can also have an extremely quick and positive impact on patients who are very unwell or bed-ridden.

NICE managed to push through its final guidance on the drug in less than three months. Its recommendation is based on the basis that GlaxoSmithKline provides it to the NHS with a discount on the list price.




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