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Skin Cancer Drug Won’t Be Available on NHS

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In a blow for patients who are suffering from an advanced form of skin cancer, it has been announced that a new drug capable of treating it will not be made available on the NHS.

The drug is called ipilimumab and it has already been used in clinical trials. But it has a price tag of £80,000 for every patient treated with the drug. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (otherwise known as NICE) has issued guidance recommending that the NHS does not use the treatment. Furthermore the clinical results seem to be questionable. Research has found that there can be potentially nasty side effects, and only a small number of those treated with the drug experience any positive effects.

The chief executive of NICE, Sir Andrew Dillon, said that “on the basis of the evidence provided so far, ipilimumab could not be considered a cost effective use of NHS resources.”

There is a footnote to this story however; according to the latest information available, it is possible that individual NHS trusts could elect to provide the drug for some patients. This occurs because decisions on treatment are made locally in each individual situation. Thus some patients who have already received chemotherapy and who have advanced skin cancer may still be able to receive it. However the guidance given by NICE is not good, and it has clearly taken many different factors into consideration to come to its conclusion. Whatever happens, this drug will not be widely available.

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