Erivedge (vismodegib)

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: April 2023

Erivedge® (vismodegib) is a treatment option for adults with some types of basal cell carcinoma (BCC). It is often one of the first drug treatments used for these types of BCC.1,2

Erivedge is used to treat:1,2

  • Metastatic BCC – Cancer that has spread to distant parts of the body
  • Locally advanced BCC – Cancer that has returned following surgery or that cannot be treated with radiation or surgery. "Locally" means it has not spread far from the original spot.

Erivedge reduces tumor growth by blocking cancer cell growth and division. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of Erivedge.1-3

What are the ingredients in Erivedge?

The active ingredient in Erivedge is vismodegib.3

How does Erivedge work?

Erivedge works by blocking a cell process called the Hedgehog pathway. This process is involved in the development of hair follicles and the growth of new skin.1

An important player in the Hedgehog pathway is a protein called “Smoothened” (SMO). When SMO is active, it signals cells to grow and divide. Another protein called “Patched” (PTCH1) typically turns off SMO when appropriate.1

But some people with BCC have genetic changes to PTCH1. These changes stop it from being able to turn off SMO. SMO can then signal cells to grow without stopping. This leads to too much cell division, which can lead to tumor growth.4,5

Erivedge is designed to block SMO, which can prevent cancer cells from dividing. Erivedge is an example of a targeted therapy for BCC. It targets active SMO proteins in cancer cells.3

What are the possible side effects?

The most common side effects of Erivedge include:3,6

  • Muscle spasms
  • Hair loss
  • Changes in taste or loss of taste
  • Low appetite and weight loss
  • Tiredness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Joint aches

Erivedge has a boxed warning, the strictest warning from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It has this warning because of the risk of embryo-fetal toxicity. This means it can cause your baby to have severe birth defects or die before it is born.3

If you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed, talk with your doctor. Erivedge should not be taken by people who are pregnant or breastfeeding.3

In people who can become pregnant, Erivedge can also cause menstrual periods to stop (amenorrhea). Researchers do not yet know if this change is permanent.3

These are not all the possible side effects of Erivedge. Talk to your doctor about what to expect when taking Erivedge. Call your doctor if you have any changes that concern you when taking Erivedge.

Other things to know

Take Erivedge as your doctor prescribes. It is available as an oral capsule.3,6

If you have a partner who is pregnant or who can become pregnant, talk to your doctor about what this means for you. Talk to your doctor about how to prevent pregnancy and pregnancy complications while taking the drug. They may suggest that you:3

  • Use birth control during treatment and for some time after treatment if you can become pregnant
  • Use a condom during sex throughout treatment and for some time after treatment if your partner is pregnant or can become pregnant
  • Talk to your doctor if you have unprotected sex or if you think contraceptives have failed
  • Talk to your doctor if you or your partner become pregnant or may be pregnant

Talk to your doctor about what to avoid while taking Erivedge. They may suggest that during treatment and for some time after your last dose, you should:3

  • Not donate any blood or blood products
  • Not donate semen
  • Not breastfeed

Other medical conditions or medicines may make Erivedge less safe. Before taking Erivedge, tell your doctor your full health history. Talk to them about:3

  • Pregnancy or plans to become pregnant
  • Breastfeeding or plans to breastfeed
  • Any allergies you have
  • Any other medical conditions you have
  • Any medicines you take, including over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and supplements

For more information, read the full prescribing information of Erivedge.

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