news: panel recommends Avastin removed for breast cancer

Despite improved quality of life for patients on Avastin®, a Food and Drug Administration expert panel voted 12 to 1 to remove Avastin from the armamentarium for breast cancer. Although it was initially granted accelerated approval, the panel said that on follow-up, Avastin failed to prove it extends survival and its side effects outweighed the benefits to patients. Avastin is a targeted therapy that starves tumors’ blood supply. It is also approved for treatment of brain, colon, kidney and lung cancers; those approvals remain.

One study found that when combined with paclitaxel, Avastin prolonged progression free survival for five months; two other studies found progression sooner than five months. No studies showed either improved quality of life or an extension of life. Progression free survival and extension of life are the key parameters for measuring a drug’s effectiveness in treating cancer. On the other hand, studies showed that Avastin caused some severe side effects, which could be life threatening in themselves.

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© 2004-2010 Donna Peach. All rights reserved.

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