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Cancer fighting drug Zelboraf given the nod for NHS

Zelboraf, a cancer fighting drug has been given draft approval by drug watchdog Nice. The drug is said to have a marked effect on cancerous cells, and has been said to destroy tumors within weeks of its usage. Even though reports suggest that the drug has short-lived benefits and is pricey, it has been given approval for use in the NHS.

Initially Zelboraf, which is being sold by Roche, was turned down by the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) as it had a higher price tag of 1,750 pounds a week and it only allowed for patients to gain an extra 2 to 3 months of life. However now, the drug has been given approval after Nice asked Roche for further details regarding the drug’s effectiveness.

Zelboraf, which is actually vemurafinib, is said to now fulfill the criteria of providing a cost-effective end-of-life treatment for terminally ill patients, as the drug’s price has been reduced by Roche. Only about 1000 people a year would be eligible to be treated by the drug, as certain genetic mutations that the drug targets is only apparent in a few people.

If Roche can provide a price that the NHS can afford for the drug, it is set to be available in England for melanoma patients till 2014, as part of the Cancer Drug Fund. It is doubtful however, if the drug will be available in Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales.