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Is it worth the cost?  To start with the drug extends life of terminal patients only a couple of months, and they are only counting cancer deaths.  Secondly those figures of how long we cannot believe, since it is the norm for figures to be positively distorted.  Only the FDA and in European Regulatory Agency see the raw data.  NICE only sees the published articles--and they are distorted by design (fraud).  They are freely push the drug for off-label uses, and thus widely  given.  Moreover, they are given to people who have been cured of cancer through surgery received the drug and thus have their quality of life reduced and its length.  This drug can kill at best only a percentage of cancer cells, thus if some of them have the ability to spread to distant tissues and kill the patient who has been diagnosed with stage 1, 2,  or 3 cancer, it will still occur.  Thus the drug which has been approved for terminal patients is given to those who won't benefit from it.  Costs and deaths from other causes are not considered by the FDA. And serious side effects such as opportunistic diseases due to a compromised immune system are generally not a reason for withhold approval.  All the drug has to do for cancer is slightly extend life of those who die from the cancer.  And by using terminal patients, other problems such as heart attacks and new cancers won’t show up as side effects. 



NICE turns down Avastin for breast cancer

July 6, 2012 | By Eric Palmer

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 each year.

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.

read the Reuters story



Continuing Avastin use in some colorectal cancer treatments extends life

Another study released at ASCO show months of improvement for some women with ovarian cancer costs

June 4, 2012 | By Eric Palmer

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.

Avastin is 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.  {Note that since they didn’t list overall survival, just progress-free survival, it is reasonable to presume that overall survival was negative or near zero--jk}. 

For expensive 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).

Avastin is 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
- get
more from Ecancer News
- still
more from MedPage Today
- check out the Roche
release on the colorectal cancer study
- here's the Genentech
release on Avastin treatment for ovarian cancer


*      This is totally incorrect.  The belief is that if the average survival is a bit longer, maybe the person treated will do much better than average.  However, the deception lies in that such person would if in the control group have also done much above survival, for such is the nature of the bell-shaped curve/



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