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NICE recommends against BMS' melanoma drug

The UK's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has issued draft guidance recommending against the use of Bristol-Myers Squibb's Yervoy for skin cancer

The UK's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued draft guidance recommending against the use of Bristol-Myers Squibb's (BMS) Yervoy (ipilimumab) by the NHS to treat advanced malignant melanoma in people who have received prior chemotherapy.

The body said the drug, which costs around £80,000 per patient, was not a cost-effective option based on available data.

Sir Andrew Dillon, chief executive of NICE, explained that data submitted by BMS did show the drug could potentially be very effective for a small percentage of patients, but the follow-up from the trial was too short to determine how long this effect would last.

Dillon also commented that the submitted study did not compare ipilimumab with the drugs currently used to treat people with advanced or metastatic melanoma.

He said: "Unfortunately, no patient characteristics or biomarkers have yet been identified to help identify this small group of people most likely to gain long-term benefit from receiving ipilimumab."

The drug is also associated with a number of adverse reactions including diarrhoea, rash, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, decreased appetite, and abdominal pain that can significantly affect a patient's quality of life.

The draft guidance is available for comment until November 4, 2011.

18th October 2011

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