Roche’s skin cancer drug, Erivedge (vismodegib), has been approved by regulators to treat people with severe basal cell carcinoma (BCC).
The drug functions as a blocking mechanism on the areas in the body that have become affected by the cancer.
Scientists at Cancer Research UK uncovered the methods by which the drug operates on individuals with BCC, praising the decision as "great news for patients".
Dr Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: "We are proud to have played a key role in the early development of this drug and we’re delighted that it has passed this regulatory hurdle and is approved for use in the UK."
He added that the drug "is a major advance for the treatment of this disease, providing advanced basal cell carcinoma patients with a new treatment option."
Basal cell carcinoma affects a chemical process known as the hedgehog pathway, a route via which the body sends information to embryonic cells, considered necessary for overall development.
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The pathway is most active throughout an individual’s youth, but then become less so as the person becomes an adult.
BCC is most commonly found on the head and neck. At present, the primary way to treat the disease is surgery or radiotherapy.
Patients who are prescribed Erivedge need to take the drug once a day for roughly ten months, and the cost of the drug is estimated at around $7,500 (approximately £6,000) per month.
Furthermore, doctors who wish to prescribe the drug to their patients will most likely have to make a request for it through the Cancer Drugs Fund in England.
Physicians in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will need to contact their local health providers to receive funding for the drug.
Image: Roche’s Erivedge (vismodegib) skin cancer drug functions as a blocking mechanism on the areas in the body that have become affected by the cancer. Image courtesy of Roche.