NHS go-ahead for skin cancer treatments

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Two life-extending drugs used to treat the most dangerous form of skin cancer have been given the go-ahead for use on the NHS.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) has issued final guidance recommending ipilimumab and vemurafenib to treat advanced malignant melanoma.

The prognosis for advanced melanoma is very poor, and those who are diagnosed often have just months to live. But under the guidance, patients in England and Wales will be able to access the “breakthrough” treatments.

In initial guidance, Nice did not recommend use of the treatments. But the regulator has since received data about the cost effectiveness of the drugs and in its final guidance it has recommended the treatments on the basis that the manufacturers provide them with a discount.

Professor Carole Longson, director of the Health Technology Evaluation Centre at Nice, said: “We are pleased that the manufacturers have worked with us so that we are now able to recommend both treatments.”