Debate rages over cancer drug
7 Healthcast: Debate rages over cancer drug
The drug Avastin, already approved for lung, brain and colon cancer was temporarily approved for treating advanced breast cancer in 2008 based on the condition ongoing studies continued to show a benefit.
When those studies did not back up the earlier research the FDA moved to revoke the approval last December.
Thousands of women who did see a benefit are outraged.
Now they're pushing the FDA to reconsider.
The FDA is holding public hearings on the issue before making a decision.
Many of the patients testifying Tuesday are what doctors call "super responders", meaning their experience with Avastin was better than that of other patients.
Still others said the proposal to remove the breast cancer indication for Avastin is the right decision because the studies haven't shown an overall survival benefit.
"For every woman who had a two year extension of life apparently, there's at least one women or two who died sooner," pointed out Dr. Diana Zuckerman of the National Research Center for Women and Families.
If the drug is taken off the market for breast cancer patients will likely have to pay the $90,000 per-year bill to keep treatment going.
It's a price tag many women say they can't afford, so they're asking the FDA to make sure these super-responders still have access.
"Please allow Avastin to be a treatment decision made by an informed patient and her physician," urged Dr. Beth Baugham DuPree.
Both sides want drugs that work, but supporters say they've already found their wonder drug.
Panel members will vote on whether they think avastin should continue to be approved for breast cancer on Wednesday, but that panel does not have the last word.
FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg will make the final decision in a few weeks.