NICE reverses decision, backs Bristol-Myers Squibb's Yervoy, Roche's Zelboraf for melanoma

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence issued updated final draft guidance recommending NHS reimbursement of Bristol-Myers Squibb's Yervoy (ipilimumab) and Roche's Zelboraf (vemurafenib) for patients with advanced melanoma. The agency had provisionally rejected Yervoy in 2011 and Zelboraf earlier this year, asking for more information from Roche in August.

However, NICE noted that since the initial decisions, both companies had submitted further information regarding the drugs' cost effectiveness, while Bristol-Myers Squibb had proposed a patient access scheme. The agency said that Yervoy is recommended for patients with advanced malignant melanoma who have received prior chemotherapy and Zelboraf is backed for use in those with unresectable locally advanced or metastatic BRAF V600 mutation-positive melanoma.

Carole Longson, director of NICE's Health Technology Evaluation Centre, remarked that the two compounds "are breakthrough treatments that can potentially significantly affect prognosis for these patients." The agency noted that a four-dose course of Yervoy costs 75 000 pounds ($120 670), while treatment with an average duration of seven months with Zelboraf is priced at 52 500 pounds ($84 470). Both Bristol-Myers Squibb and Roche will provide the drugs at undisclosed discounts to the NHS.

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