Canadian Skin Patient Alliance lauds national Initial Recommendation for new melanoma drugs – Urges quick final approval
OTTAWA, March 30, 2012 /PRNewswire/ – Today the national drug-review agency,
the pan-Canadian Oncology Drug Review (pCODR), announced it is
recommending that provinces and territories should consider paying for
the skin cancer drugs Yervoy (Ipilimumab) and Zelboraf (Vemurafenib)
for the treatment of skin cancer patients whose melanoma has spread
from the skin to other organs of the body.
“Today’s ‘Initial Recommendation’ announcement from pCODR is good news
for melanoma patients in Canada,” said Christine Jackson, Executive
Director of the Canadian Skin Patient Alliance (CSPA). “We are pleased
that pCODR is moving quickly to evaluate these drugs and we hope that
the remaining final recommendation will come just as quickly”.
Until now, there has been no approved treatment for advanced melanoma in
Canada that had a positive impact on survival for metastatic patients.
Yervoy and Zelboraf are first new advanced melanoma treatments to be
developed in over a decade. An estimated 5,500 Canadians will be
diagnosed with melanoma this year and 950 will die from it. Melanoma is
responsible for 75 percent of the deaths associated with skin cancer.
Melanoma is clearly visible on the skin, and 90 percent of melanomas
are caused by exposure to UV light, including tanning beds.
Unlike traditional chemotherapy which puts toxins into the body to kill
cancer, Yervoy works by stimulating the body’s immune system to find
and kill cancer cells. Zelboraf works by slowing down or stopping the
growth of cancer causing cells with the BRAF gene which drives the
development of cancer in about 50% of malignant melanomas. A test can
establish which patients possess the gene and are suitable for
treatment. Both drugs are for patients who cannot use other systemic
treatments or whose cancer has not responded to other systemic
The CSPA is a national umbrella organization which includes the
affiliated skin cancer organizations Alberta Melanoma Society, Save
Your Skin Foundation, and the Canadian Skin Cancer Foundation. “Most
patients with advanced melanoma now live less than a year,” said Tanny
Nadon, Secretary Treasurer of the Melanoma Society of Alberta. “Today’s
news is the hope the melanoma community has been waiting on for years,”
said David Barnard, Executive Director of the Save Your Skin
Foundation, whose mom has been battling this disease since 2003. Leona
Yez, Executive Director of the Canadian Skin Cancer Foundation, added
“We are hopeful that the provinces and territories will now put the
emphasis on treatments for melanoma and make these two medications
available to patients as soon as possible.”
On January 25th, the CSPA launched Skin Deep: A Report Card on Access to Dermatological Care and Treatment
in Canada. In it, the CSPA called on governments to step up to the plate by
immediately providing access to life-saving treatments once they are
recommended by pCODR.
Founded in 2007, The Canadian Skin Patient Alliance (CSPA) is a by
patients-for-patients, resource and community for all skin patients
living with a skin conditions and disorders. As a national umbrella
organization for Canadian not-for-profit patient groups and
organizations that deal with skin conditions and diseases, the CSPA is
an important hub of skin-health-related information in Canada. As an
advocate for awareness, education, research and access to appropriate
care, the CSPA represents the voice of the millions of skin patients
and their families.
SOURCE CANADIAN SKIN PATIENT ALLIANCE