A new skin cancer drug said to be able to prolong the lives of patients who have the deadly disease is a step closer to being made widely available, it has been revealed.
The medicine, called Yervoy (ipilimumab), has gained a European licence, which means it is now available to patients in the UK and its manufacturers are waiting on a decision about whether the drug will be made available on the NHS.
The treatment for advanced melanoma is the first of its kind since the 1970s, with patients having previously received another therapy.
Research has shown that nearly half (46%) of those treated with Ipilimumab, were still alive a year later, compared with 25% of patients who were being given an alternative treatment.
The drug, made by Bristol-Myers Squibb, works by stimulating the body’s own immune system so that it can fight cancer. Those undergoing the treatment receive one infusion every three weeks for a total of four infusions.
The precise cost of the drug varies slightly depending on how heavy the patient is, but it is said to cost in the region of £18,000 per infusion. The average cost is £75,000 per patient, according to statistics.