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GSK melanoma pill backed by UK cost watchdog with price cut

LONDON, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Britain's healthcare cost agency NICE has recommended a third new drug for melanoma, this time from GlaxoSmithKline, after the drugmaker offered to supply it at a discount to the state-run National Health Service.

GSK currently markets Tafinlar but the product will soon transfer to Novartis under a deal between the two companies to trade assets.

Tafinlar is an oral medicine that works in a similar way to Roche's already recommended drug Zelboraf. Both target a specific gene mutation linked to around half of aggressive melanomas.

The drugs have produced remarkable results in shrinking tumours in clinical trials, although cancers typically become resistant to treatment within a year.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) said on Thursday it had fast-tracked its recommendation for Tafinlar to the final draft stage in order to speed up access to the treatment.

The recommendation is conditional on GSK supplying the drug to the state health system at an undisclosed discount to the list price, which is 1,400 pounds ($2,280) for a 28-capsule pack of 75 mg pills. The recommended dose is 150 mg taken twice daily.

NICE also recommends the use of Bristol-Myers Squibb's injectable melanoma drug Yervoy.

(1 US dollar = 0.6130 British pound) (Reporting by Ben Hirschler; editing by Jason Neely)