Many patients will be over the moon to see this news.  Well done to everyone concerned.

“NHS England has agreed to revise its ruling covering the stopping and re-starting of treatment for patients with melanoma who are receiving the anti PD-1 inhibitors pembrolizumab and nivolumab. This means clinicians will be able to halt treatment after two years, provided they and their patients consider this to be the correct course of action, with the assurance that funding for the drugs will continue to be available if the disease progresses and the treatment needs to be resumed.
Under the previous ruling – that once stopped, no further funding was available should treatment need to be re-started – clinicians and patients tended to adopt the understandably cautious approach of continuing treatment beyond the two-year point.
The decision is in response to an initiative by Melanoma Focus to persuade the NHS to alter its stance on this issue. There is evidence from recent clinical trials showing that for many patients the drugs have a beneficial effect within the first two years, with no additional gain in continuing the treatment for longer once a response has been confirmed. Indeed, given the severe side-effects some patients experience, ceasing treatment can often lead to significant quality of life improvements. A further advantage is the financial savings if these costly drugs can be suspended once their effect on a patient has become established.
NHS England has set a number of conditions, for example the requirement to submit a special request for retreatment, together with the collection of some additional basic data about patients. The NHS is expected to finalise the necessary procedures and documentation shortly.
Professor Paul Lorigan, chairman of Melanoma Focus, comments: ‘NHS England has responded to the evidence presented in a very positive way, recognising the advantages for patients. Clinicians and patients are completely supportive and the collection of extra data will allow a better understanding of the benefits of retreatment.
‘This is a win-win situation. Patients won’t need to be treated for longer than is necessary, while they can be confident that the drugs will still be available if needed; and there will be substantial savings for the NHS by reducing unnecessary drug treatments as well as the costs of dealing with the side-effects’.
treatment option for the adjuvant treatment of adult patients with stage III melanoma with a BRAF V600 mutation, following surgery’.
Paul Lorigan, Professor of Medical Oncology at The Christie, Manchester and Chairman of Melanoma Focus, commented:
‘Across the UK we continue to see an increase in cases of melanoma. Whilst the majority of patients are cured by surgery, this is not always the case. The dabrafenib/trametinib combination is the first treatment to be made available on the NHS that shows a significant reduction in the risk of dying from the recurrence of melanoma after surgery. It will transform outcomes for many patients in England and Wales.”