FDA approves Novartis's advanced skin cancer drug

The logo of Swiss drugmaker Novartis is seen at its headquarters in Basel October 22, 2013. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

(Reuters) - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Novartis AG's oral pill to treat the most common form of advanced skin cancer.

The drug, Odomzo, carry a boxed warning to alert the risks that it may cause death or severe birth defects in a developing fetus when administered to a pregnant woman. (http://1.usa.gov/1HOgvov)

Odomzo, which targets patients with locally advanced basal cell carcinoma, halts or reduces the growth of cancerous tissues by suppressing the molecular pathway active in basal cell cancers.

Basal cell carcinoma is generally a slow growing and painless form of skin cancer that starts in the top layer of the skin.

It develops on areas of skin that are regularly exposed to sunlight or other ultraviolet radiation.

Although locally advanced basal skin cancer does not spread to other parts of the body, it cannot be cured with surgery or radiation therapy.

Roche Holding AG's Erivedge was the first pill to be approved in 2012 by the FDA for the condition.

One in five Americans are likely to develop skin cancer in their lifetime, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

(Reporting by Anjali Rao Koppala in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Joyjeet Das)