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Drug treatment for melanoma: progress, but who pays?

Med J Aust 2012; 197 (4): 198-199. || doi: 10.5694/mja12.10955

Making cancer drugs affordable requires coherent policy and cannot be left to market forces

Melanoma is 10 times more common in Australia than in most countries,1 and kills more than 1300 Australians every year.2 The good news is that we now have effective drug treatments for metastatic melanoma. Two drugs, ipilimumab3,4 and vemurafenib,5 are now approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration and the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration in recognition of convincing evidence for prolongation of life in treated patients, at least in the short term. Australia has played an important role in the development of drug treatment for melanoma,6,7 including the practice-changing discovery of the effectiveness of drug therapy against brain metastases.8

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  • Richard F Kefford1,2

  • 1 University of Sydney at Westmead Hospital, Sydney, NSW.
  • 2 Melanoma Institute Australia, Sydney, NSW.


Competing interests:

I have received institutional reimbursement for membership of advisory boards on drug development from Roche, GlaxoSmithKline and Bristol-Myers Squibb and travel assistance from GlaxoSmithKline to present clinical trial data.

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  • 9. Weber JS, Flaherty KT, Infante JR, et al. Updated safety and efficacy results from a phase I/II study of the oral BRAF inhibitor dabrafenib (GSK2118436) combined with the oral MEK 1/2 inhibitor trametinib (GSK1120212) in patients with BRAFi-naive metastatic melanoma. 2012 ASCO Meeting Abstracts. J Clin Oncol 2012; 30 (15 Suppl): 8510. http://www.asco.org/ASCOv2/Meetings/Abstracts?&vmview=abst_detail_view&confID=114&abstractID=97785 (accessed Jul 2012).

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