Find out what vismodegib is, how you have it and other important information about having this drug.
What is it
Vismodegib is pronounced vis-mo-dej-ib. It also has the brand name Erivedge.
It is a treatment for advanced basal cell skin cancer, which include those that:
- have spread to another part of the body
- have come back after surgery and cannot be removed
- are in a place where they cannot be removed by surgery
You might also have vismodegib as part of clinical trials for other cancers.
How it works
Vismodegib is a type of targeted cancer drug (a biological therapy) called a cancer growth blocker.
Most basal cell skin cancers have a change in certain proteins (called the hedgehog pathway) that send signals within the cells. This signal makes the cells become cancerous and grow more quickly than usual.
Vismodegib works by blocking these signals so that the cancer stops growing. This type of drug is called a hedgehog pathway blocker.
How you have it
Vismodegib is a capsule that you take every day. You can take it with or without food.
If you accidentally take too much vismodegib
See a doctor or go to hospital straight away.
If you forget to take vismodegib
Skip the missed dose and take the next dose at the usual time. Don't take a double dose to make up for the missed one.
Taking your tablets or capsules
Whether you have a full or empty stomach can affect how much of a drug gets into your bloodstream.
You should take the right dose, not more or less.
Never stop taking a cancer drug without talking to your specialist first.
When you have it
You continue taking vismodegib for as long as it works and the side effects aren't too bad.
Tests during treatment
You have blood tests before starting treatment and during your treatment. They check your levels of blood cells and other substances in the blood. They also check how well your liver and kidneys are working.
Other medicines, foods and drink
Cancer drugs can interact with some other medicines and herbal products. Tell your doctor or pharmacist about any medicines you are taking. This includes vitamins, herbal supplements and over the counter remedies.
Pregnancy and contraception
This drug can harm a baby developing in the womb. It is important not to become pregnant or father a child while you are having treatment and for 2 years afterwards. Vismodegib can have an effect on the body during that time.
After starting treatment men must also use a condom during intercourse. You must continue to use condoms for 2 months after finishing treatment, even if you have had a vasectomy.
You will need to sign a consent form and register with the company who makes vismodegib. This is to make sure you understand the risks of having this drug and that you agree to use contraception for this period of time.
Talk to your doctor or nurse about effective contraception before starting treatment.
Don’t breastfeed during this treatment because the drug may come through in your breast milk.
You may not be able to become pregnant or father a child after treatment with this drug. Talk to your doctor before starting treatment if you think you may want to have a baby in the future. Men may be able to store sperm before starting treatment. Women may be able to store eggs or ovarian tissue but this is rare.
Treatment for other conditions
Always tell other doctors, nurses or dentists that you’re having this treatment if you need treatment for anything else, including teeth problems.
Don’t have immunisations with live vaccines while you’re having treatment and for at least 6 months afterwards.
In the UK, live vaccines include rubella, mumps, measles, BCG, yellow fever and Zostavax (shingles vaccine).
- have other vaccines, but they might not give you as much protection as usual
- have the flu vaccine
- be in contact with other people who've had live vaccines as injections
Avoid contact with people who’ve had live vaccines taken by mouth (oral vaccines). This includes the rotavirus vaccine given to babies. The virus is in the baby’s urine for up to 2 weeks and can make you ill. So, you mustn't change their nappies for 2 weeks after their vaccination.
You also need to avoid anyone who has had oral polio or typhoid vaccination recently.
More information about this treatment
For further information about this treatment go to the electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC) website.
You can report any side effect you have to the Medicines Health and Regulatory Authority (MHRA) as part of their Yellow Card Scheme.