Despite a recent ruling by an FDA panel — which voted to revoke the agency's earlier approval of the use of cancer drug Avastin to treat breast cancer — the National Comprehensive Cancer Network has voted in favor of maintaining its recommendation that Avastin be used for breast cancer, reports Pharmalot's Ed Silverman. Avastin is still approved by FDA for the treatment of other cancers, but the agency — after a series of hearings on the topic — ultimately voted to keep breast cancer off the list of approved indications, citing recent research that suggests Avastin doesn't do enough to help breast cancer patients while exposing them to toxic effects. The move has been somewhat controversial, however, with some groups continuing their support for Avastin to be used in breast Cancer. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has indicated that it will continue to cover patients using Avastin to treat their breast cancer. And now, the NCCN, a nonprofit group of oncologists has voted — 24 in favor, none against, and one abstention — to continue recommending Avastin, Silverman says. "The endorsement by the NCCN is important because, as a practical matter, this means oncologists will likely continue to use Avastin even if FDA commish Margaret Hamburg decides to rescind the breast cancer indication," he adds. "That would mean Avastin treatment for breast cancer would be relegated to off-label use, forcing third-party payers to decide whether to provide coverage."
Jul 23, 2011