A new drug for the treatment of locally advanced basal cell carcinoma has been approved in the US.

Taken in the form of a daily pill, Odomzo (generic name sonidegib) is marketed by Swiss pharma Novartis AG. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says a trial showed the drug shrank or wiped out tumors in 58 percent of patients treated.

The regulators note that the drug is intended for patients with locally advanced basal cell carcinomas who are not candidates for surgery or radiotherapy, or whose tumors have recurred following such treatment.

Locally advanced basal cell carcinomas (laBCCs) are basal cell cancers that have spread to nearby tissue (but not to the rest of the body) and do not respond to locally targeted treatment – that is, surgery and radiotherapy. They can be highly disfiguring.

The new pill works by suppressing the Hedgehog molecular pathway, which is active in basal cell cancers.

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