The first advanced skin cancer drug since the 1970s has been awarded a European licence and is now available to patients in the UK via the Cancer Drugs Fund.

Yervoy (ipilimumab), developed by New York-based Bristol Myers Squibb, can be taken by adults with advanced melanoma, who have not received another therapy, and is shown to almost double the one-year survival rates.

A Phase III clinical trial showed that 46% of participants treated with the drug were alive one year after diagnosis, compared with 25% receiving other treatment.

In addition, 24% of patients were alive two years after being told their cancer was terminal, compared with 14% receiving chemotherapy.

UK Government watchdog, the National Institute of Clinical Excellence, is now considering the drug’s benefits before deciding if it should be available on the National Health Service.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the approval of Yervoy in March this year.

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By GlobalData

Ipilimumab works by stimulating the body’s own immune system to fight cancer.