The blockbuster drug Avastin no longer be used to treat breast cancer, Federal health authorities recommended. It is saying recent studies failed to show the drug’s original promise to help slow the disease. The Food and Drug Administration’s decision is supported by many cancer experts but is sure to draw resistance from cancer patients and some doctors who fiercely defend the drug and say it should remain available.
The FDA approved Avastin for breast cancer in 2008 based on studies suggesting it halted the spread of breast cancer for more than five months. But follow-up studies showed that delay lasted no more than three months, and patients suffered dangerous side effects. Doctors will still be able to prescribe the drug “off-label,” though some insurers may not pay for it.