Roche's new personalised skin cancer therapy Zelboraf has been made available to patients across the UK.
The vemurafenib therapy has been licensed by European regulators for adult patients with specific BRAF gene mutations whose cancer is inoperable or has spread.
Data from a clinical study carried out by the Institute of Cancer Research has shown that Zelboraf is able to deliver significant increases in survival rates compared to standard chemotherapy, making it the first targeted therapy to do so in this indication.
The drug is designed for use in conjunction with Roche's cobas 4800 BRAF V600 Mutation Test, which will allow doctors to identify which patients can benefit from the treatment.
Currently, 10,000 people are diagnosed with malignant melanoma in the UK annually, with the increasingly prevalent disease causing 2,300 deaths a year.
Professor Alan Ashworth, chief executive of the ICR, said: "Advanced melanoma is a devastating disease and new treatments are desperately needed, so it's especially pleasing that patients will now be able to benefit from a drug that we helped develop."