Author: Anoma Ranaweera, Staff Writer, 2012.
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is usually curable if the lesions are restricted to a small area of the skin. However, in rare cases, the lesions can become disfiguring, invade surrounding tissue, or metastasize. In these instances of advanced BCC, the disease cannot be effectively treated with surgery or radiation — the standard treatments.
On January 30, 2012, the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) approved vismodegib (Erivedge®, made by Genentech, Inc. USA) for the treatment of adults with metastatic basal cell carcinoma. It is not currently funded by PHARMAC in New Zealand (Aug 2016).
Vismodegib is intended for use in adult patients with locally advanced basal cell cancer who are not candidates for surgery or radiation and for patients whose cancer has metastasized.
This is the first FDA-approved drug for use in advanced forms of BCC, one of the most common skin cancers.
The most common adverse reactions (incidence of 10% or more) associated with vismodegib are:
Roche and Genentech are currently evaluating vismodegib in a phase 2 trial for patients with operable forms of BCC.
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