Nab-paclitaxel, marketed as Abraxane, has shown improvements when given to patients with advanced pancreatic cancer in combination with standard chemotherapy.
Average survival increased from 6.7 months to 8.5 months. One year survival rates rose from 22% to 35% and at two years they doubled from 4% to 9%, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine last year.
Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest cancers, killing 80% of the 8,500 people diagnosed every year in the UK within 12 months.
It claimed the life of Hollywood star Patrick Swayze and featured in Coronation Street when character Hayley Cropper developed the disease.
Abraxane, which costs around £600 a month, has now been made available to patients in the UK through private clinics.
Manufacturer Celgene has applied for the drug to be added to the NHS Cancer Drugs Fund list. An application is also being submitted to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), which appraises drugs for use on the NHS.
Alex Ford, chief executive officer at Pancreatic Cancer UK, said: "With so few treatment options available to patients, we know that they want access to new and effective treatments such as Abraxane.
"Therefore, the launch of this medicine is greatly welcomed as an additional treatment option for patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer."
Ali Stunt, chief executive of Pancreatic Cancer Action, said: "The launch of Abraxane is a much needed addition in the treatment of metastatic pancreatic cancer and could really benefit eligible patients in the UK and Ireland.
"For decades, there have been very few treatment options for pancreatic cancer, therefore this news will be a welcome advance for patients who are at a stage in their life when time is at an absolute premium."
Professor David Cunningham, director of clinical research at the Royal Marsden hospital, said: "Pancreatic cancer is the fifth most common cancer, yet progress in treating the disease has been limited.
"One-year survival for patients with pancreatic cancer is still less than 20% and we have waited for many years for an alternative to current treatments.
"Today's news represents a significant step forward in the treatment of metastatic pancreatic cancer. It is important that nab-paclitaxel, which has demonstrated an increase in overall survival, should be available for patients with this cancer."Suggest a correction