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Vismodegib Receives FDA Approval for Metastatic BCC

The Food and Drug Administration has approved vismodegib, an oral, once-daily medication for adults with locally advanced and metastatic advanced basal cell carcinoma on Jan. 30.

Vismodegib (Erivedge) is the first medication approved for metastatic BCC and was approved ahead of its March 8 statutory review date, according to a statement from the FDA.

The drug works by inhibiting the hedgehog pathway, which is active in most BCCs. "Our understanding of molecular pathways involved in cancer, such as the hedgehog pathway, has enabled the development of targeted drugs for specific diseases," said Dr. Richard Pazdur, director of the FDA’s Office of Hematology and Oncology Products, in a statement.

"Today’s approval provides a new treatment for people with advanced basal cell carcinoma who, until now, had no approved medicines to help shrink disfiguring or potentially life-threatening lesions," Dr. Hal Barron, Genentech’s chief medical officer and head of global product development, said in a statement.

The FDA based its approval on a single-arm, multicenter phase II study, ERIVANCE BCC. The open-label study enrolled 104 patients with locally advanced or metastatic BCC but, according to the FDA, approval was based on evaluations of 96 patients. Study participants took 150 mg vismodegib once daily.

The primary end point was objective response rate, that is, the percentage of patients who experienced complete and partial shrinkage or disappearance of the cancerous lesions after treatment. A total of 43% of patients with locally advanced BCC had partial or complete response (27 of 63) and 30% with metastatic disease had a partial response (10 of 33), according to Genentech. The median duration of response was 7.6 months.

The most common side effects were muscle spasms, hair loss, weight loss, nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, distorted sense of taste or loss of taste, decreased appetite, constipation, vomiting, and aching joints.

Vismodegib will carry a boxed warning about a potential risk of death or severe birth effects to a fetus. The FDA is not requiring a birth defects risk management program for vismodegib, but Genentech is advising female patients to use "highly effective" birth control before, during, and for 7 months after the last dose of treatment. Men should use a condom with spermicide, even if they have had a vasectomy, during sex with female partners during treatment and for 2 months after the last dose.

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