The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is recommending NHS use of Novartis’ oral combination therapy Tafinlar (dabrafenib) + Mekinist (trametinib) for the treatment of adults with unresectable or metastatic melanoma with a BRAF V600 mutation.

The cost regulator has skipped a stage in the appraisal process because its recommendation falls in line with the combination’s approved indication, on the strength of the data showing that it can extend life by six months compared to other available treatments.

Patients with advanced melanoma have a life expectancy of under two years. The move could secure patients who also have the BRAF V600 mutation - which accounts for around half of cases - faster access to the treatment.

“This combination treatment is the latest in a line of promising new drugs for advanced melanoma we have recommended that look set to significantly extend the life of people with the condition,” said Professor Carole Longson, Health Technology Evaluation Centre Director at NICE.

“I know from testimonies presented to the committee that patients and healthcare professionals alike will welcome this positive recommendation.”

Novartis said it also is delighted with the decision. “This positive guidance reinforces the views and submissions from the clinical and patient community that strongly supported the need for this combination treatment as a new option for people living with this devastating cancer,” noted Barbara McLaughlan, Head of External Affairs, Novartis Oncology UK and Ireland.

The NHS will pay a reduced price for the drugs after a confidential discount was agreed between the company and the Department of Health, but the list price per patient per 28 days is £10,080.