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Costly Melanoma Drug Gets FDA Approval

skin cancer

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given its approval for Yervoy, a drug that can prolong the lifespan of melanoma skin cancer patients. Yervoy is manufactured by Bristol-Myers Squibb. It stimulates the body’s immune system against cancer tumors.

In a clinical trial, patients with melanoma who received treatment with Yervoy extended their life by around 10 months, while other patients who were not treated with Yervoy lived for about 6.4 months. Yervoy however is a costly drug. Patients would need to shell out $120,000 for a three-month complete course which includes four infusions.

The astronomical price is sure to fuel debate about the high cost of expensive cancer drugs which only prolong patients’ lives by a few months. Bristol-Myers says other melanoma drugs are twice as expensive and not as effective as Yervoy.

The American Cancer Society reveals that melanoma affected 68,000 new patients in the U.S. last year, causing 8,700 deaths. Experts say exposure to the sun is the main cause of the rising numbers as most people do not wear adequate skin protection.

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