The Roche healthcare group in Basel says it has been given the green light in Europe to market its oral Xeloda drug, which is used in chemotherapy against cancer of the colon.
Roche said in a statement that authorisation by the European Health Authorities was the first of its kind.
Professor Stan Kaye of the Royal Marsden Hospital in London said Xeloda represented a significant contribution to the treatment of patients.
"As Xeloda is given as tablets, it reduces the number of times patients need to attend hospital in comparison to intravenous therapy, allowing patients more time with their families at home," he said.
Almost 190,000 patients in Europe suffer from cancer of the colon each year.
It is estimated that globally in 2000, more than 780,000 will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and more than 435,000 will die from the disease.
swissinfo with agencies