As someone of fair-skinned family with a high risk for skin cancer, I am always happy to hear about new treatment techniques and medicines. Thus, I applaud the FDA approval of Bristol-Myers Squibb's Yervoy, the first and only drug treatment for late-stage melanoma. Unfortunately, the cost of the drug, $120,000.00 for four treatments and its relatively limited expansion of life on average, makes me wonder how many victims of skin cancer will actually benefit?
The drug appeared to prolong lives by an average of ten months as compared to the experimental vaccine gp100 which increased life expectancy by 6 1/2 months. No discussion of how much the vaccine gp 100 costs and the side-effects of Yervoy appear significant but obviously when compared to late-stage melanoma the side-effects may seem minimal.
Melanoma is the leading cause of skin disease mortality with over 68,000 cases being diagnosed in 2010.