A large clinical
study of Avastin supports what doctors in the U.S. have already internalized: In colorectal cancer patients whose condition worsens,
changing up chemotherapy but continuing treatment with Roche's ($RHHBY) pricy
cancer drug provides some improvement in survival time.
approved as a first-line or second-line treatment for colorectal cancer, but not both, Reuters points out.
But at briefing at ASCO where the results were released, one of the researchers, Dr. Dirk Arnold, claimed many doctors
in the U.S. are already continuing treatment with Avastin. Those results, released at ASCO, may give the drug a
boost in Europe and other countries where Avastin is only used as a first-line treatment, reports Ecancer News.
In the colorectal
cancer study, patients continuing on Avastin had a median survival rate of 11.2 months, compared with 9.8 months
for those getting chemotherapy-alone group. Roche's Genentech, which
developed Avastin, also issued a release showing the results of a Phase III study indicating that women with recurrent,
platinum-resistant ovarian cancer who received Avastin in combination with chemotherapy had a median progression-free
survival (PFS) of 6.7 months compared to 3.4 months for those getting only chemo.
drugs like Avastin, there are some questions--at least among payers like governments in Europe--about whether modest
improvements justify the added costs. Of course, the families of most patients believe they do, but they often are not footing
the bill. Sales of the pricey drug last year were $5.3 billion Swiss francs ($5.5 billion).
an antibody that blocks vascular endothelial growth factor, or VEGF, a protein required by tumors to develop blood vessels.
It is approved in the U.S. for treating glioblastoma, lung and kidney cancers, as well as colorectal cancer, Reuters
says. But speaking of the colorectal study, Arnold said the finding may lead to research in other cancers that respond to
a combination of Avastin and chemotherapy to determine if survival rates also increase.
- read the Reuters story
more from Ecancer News
still more from MedPage
- check out the Roche release on the
colorectal cancer study
- here's the Genentech release on Avastin treatment
for ovarian cancer
NICE turns down Avastin for breast cancer
July 6, 2012 | By Eric
Roche ($RHHBY) has again
had a cancer treatment rejected by the U.K.'s cost containment agency. This time, the National Institute for Health and Clinical
Excellence (NICE) said that
while using Avastin with the
chemotherapy treatment Xeloda delayed
the progression of breast cancer than chemotherapy alone, there was insufficient evidence that patients ultimately lived longer.
It is a tough
blow for the drug since breast cancer in Britain is the most common cancer among women. Nearly 50,000 are diagnosed with it
The Swiss drugmaker
called the rejection "disappointing," Reuters reports, a milder response than when the agency last month ruled against
its targeted melanoma treatment Zelboraf. With that rejection, the company said the decision shows NICE's evaluation process
just will not hold up under the country's new plan for "valued-based" pricing, and pointed out the drug overseer has now snubbed
9 of 10 end-of-life cancer drugs.
Avastin, of course,
is a different kind of treatment. NICE said it was also uncertain whether Avastin, known generically as bevacizumab, did anything
for the patients' quality of life.
Roche had already
had the FDA rescind its approval of Avastin for breast cancer treatment last year because the agency didn't believe the risks
to patients outweighed the benefits. Avastin is approved in the U.S. as a first line or second line treatment for colorectal
cancer, and the company recently released data that starting its continued use with chemotherapy can help patients live longer.
the Reuters story