July 1, 2011

Avastin (Bevacizumab) is a cancer drug approved by the FDA and manufactured by Roche Holding AG to treat colon and rectal cancers that have spread to other parts of the body and is also used in the treatment of certain lung cancers. Avastin works by stopping the formation of blood vessels to the cancerous tumors, which is known as an antiangiogenic agent. Antiangiogenic agents are believed to slow the growth of tumors.

Avastin has been used to treat breast cancer that has spread outside of the breast that has not been treated with other chemotherapy drugs since the FDA approved this use in 2008. In December, 2010, the FDA recommended that approval of Avastin for the treatment of breast cancer be removed because some studies indicated that it was not shown to be safe and effective in the treatment of breast cancer because Avastin was not shown to prolong the overall survival of breast cancer patients or to slow the progression to the extent that it outweighed the potential serious side effects such as severe high blood pressure, heart attack, heart failure, bleeding, and the development of perforations in the nose, stomach, and intestines. 

Source: FDA  

On June 29, 2011, an FDA advisory panel voted unanimously to stop the use of avastin for cancer patients with breast cancer for the reasons espoused in December, 2010. The FDA is not required to follow the recommendations of its advisory panels but usually does. Avastin will remain on the market for its other approved uses for cancer patients but if the FDA follows its advisory panel’s recommendation, many insurance companies probably will not pay for its use in the treatment of breast cancer that can cost as much as $100,000.00 per year.

The FDA advisory panel’s decision is not without controversy inasmuch as many experts and many breast cancer patients disagree with the decision.

If a negligent health care provider was the cause of your or a loved one’s cancer misdiagnosis or late diagnosis, there may be a claim for medical malpractice if the medical negligence caused or contributed to further injuries, pain and suffering, additional medical expenses, lost wages, or even death. Visit our website to find medical malpractice lawyers in your local area who may be able to help you with your claim. You may also call us toll free at 800-295-3959.