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FDA Commissioner announces Avastin decision

Fri, 11/18/2011 - 7:35am
Bio-Medicine.Org

SILVER SPRING, Md., Nov. 18, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D., said today she is revoking the agency's approval of the breast cancer indication for Avastin (bevacizumab) after concluding that the drug has not been shown to be safe and effective for that use.

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Avastin will still remain on the market as an approved treatment for certain types of colon, lung, kidney and brain cancer (glioblastoma multiforme).

"This was a difficult decision. FDA recognizes how hard it is for patients and their families to cope with metastatic breast cancer and how great a need there is for more effective treatments. But patients must have confidence that the drugs they take are both safe and effective for their intended use," Dr. Hamburg said. "After reviewing the available studies it is clear that women who take Avastin for metastatic breast cancer risk potentially life-threatening side effects without proof that the use of Avastin will provide a benefit, in terms of delay in tumor growth, that would justify those risks. Nor is there evidence that use of Avastin will either help them live longer or improve their quality of life."

Avastin's risks include severe high blood pressure; bleeding and hemorrhaging; heart attack or heart failure; and the development of perforations in different parts of the body such as the nose, stomach, and intestines.

Today's decision, outlined in Dr Hamburg's 69-page opinion, involves Avastin used in combination with the cancer drug paclitaxel for those patients who have not been treated with chemotherapy for their form of metastatic breast cancer known as HER2 negative. This indication must now be removed from Avastin's product labeling.

Dr. Hamburg's decision is based on an extensive record, which includes thousands of pages submitted to a public docket, data from several clinical trials and the record from a two-

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