Increasing hopeful drugs and diagnostics for Malignant Melanoma. Will these be available to you?

There are Increasing hopeful drugs, and diagnostics, for Malignant Melanoma. Will these be available to you in your Post Code/region? Will you be made aware in advance of your chances of your commissioners giving you access to these? Will your consultant or GP even let you know that they exist? Will their cost mean they are only available to (say) under 60 year olds? Although “good news” the covert rationing will continue..

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Michelle Roberts for BBC News reports 11th March 2015: Skin cancer drug fast-tracked on NHS

An experimental and unlicensed cancer drug has been fast-tracked to NHS patients under a new government scheme.

Pembrolizumab is a treatment for advanced skin cancer and is the first medicine to be approved through the Early Access to Medicines scheme (EAMS), launched in England last April.

The idea is to get pioneering drugs to severely ill patients much sooner.

Drugs signed off through EAMS have been scrutinised by regulators, weighing the risks and benefits.

A green light by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) means doctors anywhere in the UK can prescribe the drug in question before normal licensing procedures – which can take years – are complete.

Melanoma

Melanoma is the sixth most common cancer in the UK and kills more than 2,000 people in Britain each year.

Damage to the skin by the sun’s harmful UV rays increases your risk of developing this cancer.

While advanced melanoma that has spread to other parts of the body may not be curable, targeted treatment can ease symptoms and may extend life.

Clinical trials of pembrolizumab, which is injected into the bloodstream, suggest it has great promise for treating advanced disease…..

Alexander M. Castellino, for Medscape reports 12th March 2015: New Test to Aid Melanoma Diagnosis: Ready for Clinical Use?

Differentiating between malignant melanoma and benign skin moles can be difficult in about 15% of cases, where histopathologic analysis is not straightforward because of ambiguous findings.

A new 23-gene signature test (myPath Melanoma, Myriad Genetics) could be helpful in these instances, researchers working with the company suggest.

The test was developed with a training set and then validated in an independent cohort. The results were published online March 2 in the Journal of Cutaneous Pathology….

Carol Helwick for Dermatology Times reports 11th March 2015: Immunotherapy promising for advanced melanoma 

Perhaps no other cancer has benefited more from treatment advances in recent years than advanced melanoma. Once a virtual death sentence, these patients now have a reason to be hopeful, thanks to agents approved in the last three years and even better ones in the pipeline, speakers said at the 3rd Annual World Cutaneous Malignancies Congress (San Francisco, October 2014).

“Nearly 20% of patients receiving the anti-CTLA4 antibody ipilimumab (Yervoy, Bristol-Myers Squibb) are alive at five years, and even some patients who had infusions 10 years ago are still living,” says Caroline Robert, M.D., head of the dermatology unit at the Institut Gustave-Roussy in Paris, France, who has led several recent melanoma treatment trials….

… All symptomatic patients may initially receive ipilimumab, alone or in combination with an anti-PD-1/PD-L1 antibody, with BRAF status becoming important when the disease progresses. Re-treatment with combined immunotherapy or with BRAF inhibitors also may be part of the future algorithm….

This entry was posted in A Personal View, Commissioning, Good News, Rationing, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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