FDA Clears Avastin for Breast Cancer

Ruling rejects own panel's advice; drug now used for lung, colon treatment
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 22, 2008 6:06 PM CST
FDA Clears Avastin for Breast Cancer
Exterior view of Genentech Inc. headquarters in South San Francisco, Calif., Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2007. A panel of government advisers said Wednesday Genentech drug Avastin should not be approved for expanded use in breast-cancer patients. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)   (Associated Press)

(Newser) – The FDA has approved a drug currently prescribed to treat lung and colon cancer for use on breast cancer patients, the AP reports. The decision defies the advice of the FDA's own advisory panel, which recommended that Avastin not be used to treat breast cancer on the grounds that it slowed tumor growth without increasing life expectancy. Patient advocates are thrilled with the ruling.

Avastin has long been prescribed “off-label” by doctors who appreciate its effect on tumor growth. Others in the field are skeptical, even worried that a focus on shrinking tumors might cause people to “stop looking at survival as the most important endpoint.” To others, the point seems moot; one advocate praises the effects of Avastin “because they give patients hope.” (Read more breast cancer stories.)

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