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Amgen Wins Approval for Cancer-Killing Virus Drug

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a first-of-its-kind drug from Amgen (AMGN - Get Report) which uses a re-engineered herpes virus to target and kill skin cancer cells by itself and with the help of a patient's immune system.

Amgen will market the new drug, known scientifically as talimogene laherparepvec, or T-Vec, under the brand name Imlygic. Last Friday, Imlygic also won support from a committee of European drug reviewers which should lead to approval there in the next few months.

Amgen said the average cost of Imlygic will be $65,000.

Investors and analysts have a modest outlook for Imlygic's commercial potential because the new therapy is suitable for only a certain segment of patients with skin cancer, or melanoma. Other types of cancer immunotherapies, most notably Bristol-Myers Squibb's (BMY - Get Report) Opdivo and Keytruda from Merck (MRK - Get Report) are already being widely used to treat melanoma patients.

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Tuesday's FDA approval allow for the use of Imlygic as a standalone treatment, but Amgen is follow-up conducting studies to determine if combination...