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FDA approves existing drug to treat thyroid cancer

WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration said Friday it expanded approval of a Bayer drug to treat patients with thyroid cancer.

Bayer's pill Nexavar is already approved to treat kidney cancer and liver cancer that cannot be surgically removed. Now the FDA has approved the drug to treat cancerous growth of the thyroid gland, which is located in the neck.

Nexavar works by stopping proteins that allow cancer cells to divide and grow. The drug's new approval is intended for patients with forms of thyroid cancer that no longer respond to radioactive iodine treatment.

The National Cancer Institute estimates that 60,220 Americans will be diagnosed with thyroid cancer this year and 1,850 will die from it.

Nexavar is marketed by Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals, an American division of the German conglomerate.