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U.K. finally approves Roche's Zelboraf and BMS' Yervoy

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Skin cancer drugs from Roche ($RHHBY) and Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY), which can provide some relief to patients with deadly skin cancers and which have big futures for sales, have finally made it past the U.K. price watchdog NICE. But this only came to pass after both companies offered undisclosed discounts to the National Health Service.

Regulators in the U.K. have now given approval to Roche's Zelboraf and Bristol-Myers Squibb's Yervoy (ipilimumab), treatments for deadly skin cancers.

NICE in June rejected Roche's targeted cancer drug as too expensive. At £52,000 ($83,400) for an average treatment of 7 months, it is one of the most expensive treatments ever assessed by NICE. NICE last year also rejected melanoma vaccine Yervoy in draft guidance because of its £80,000 ($128,278) per patient price.

Roche returned to the regulators with some more data and both companies came up with price cuts. This time NICE said yes. Given that there are few options for patients with the conditions the drugs treat, regulators in the U.K. were glad an accommodation could be found. "Vemurafenib and ipilimumab are breakthrough treatments that can potentially significantly affect prognosis for these patients and we are very pleased that the manufacturers have worked with us so that we are now able to recommend both ipilimumab and vemurafenib," Carole Longson, health technology evaluation center director at NICE, said.

A market report in September said that both drugs have sewn up two-thirds of the market for treating advanced malignant melanoma and will underpin significant growth in sales in developed markets for a decade.

- here's the NICE release 
- read the BMS release 

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NICE on BMS's Yervoy: The cost is too darn high 
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