Swiss drugmaker Novartis' logo is seen behind scaffolding at the company's plant in the northern Swiss town of Stein February 4, 2015.

Credit: Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann

(Reuters) - European health regulators said on Friday they had recommended approval of a drug for advanced lung cancer developed by Swiss drugmaker Novartis that is intended to treat patients with a specific genetic mutation.

Zykadia, or ceritinib, is from a new class medicines known as ALK inhibitors. It was approved in April 2014 in the United States.

It is designed for use in non-small cell lung cancer patients who have previously been treated with Pfizer's Xalkori, another ALK inhibitor.

Between 2 and 7 percent of non-small cell lung cancer patients have the specific mutation of the ALK (anaplastic lymphoma kinase) protein for which such treatment is targeted. They are often non smokers.

(Reporting by Ben Hirschler)