The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has given its blessing for the use of Merck’s Keytruda early on in the treatment pathway for patients with advanced skin cancer.

In final draft guidelines out this morning, the cost watchdog agreed funding for the drug on the National Health Service in England and Wales for advanced melanoma that has not been previously treated with Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Yervoy (ipilimumab).

The move comes hot on the heels of its recommendation earlier this week supporting Keytruda’s (pembrolizumab) use in patients whose disease has progressed after therapy with Yervoy. 

The Committee concluded that the most plausible incremental cost-effectiveness ratio for Keytruda compared with best supportive care was likely to be less than £50,000 per quality-adjusted life year gained in this setting, as long as Merck continues to provide the drug at the discount agreed in the Patient Access Scheme.