Avastin Breast Cancer Drug Will No Longer Be Covered By Insurer
Avastin, Roche Holding’s breast cancer drug, will no longer be paid for by California-based health insurer Blue Shield.
Blue Shield’s decision came after health advisers said the drug was not safe or clinically beneficial, reports Reuters.
Beginning October 17, Avastin would no longer be covered as a treatment for metastatic breast cancer, Blue Shield said on its web site.
However, the insurer, which has around $3.3 million members, added that exceptions may be considered on a case-by-case basis.
In June, the Food and Drug Administration unanimously rejected use of Avastin for the treatment of breast cancer, Reuters reports.
Their vote endorsed an FDA recommendation in December to revoke its approval for Avastin in breast cancer. FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg is due to make a final decision later.
Without FDA approval, other insurers and government health programs likely will stop covering the $8,000-a-month drug.
Avastin won U.S. clearance in 2008 after a study showed it stalled breast cancer growth by 5.5 months more when used in combination with standard chemotherapy, reports Reuters.
Later, as part of an accelerated approval, the FDA ordered Roche to run follow-up studies.
Those studies found only a one-to-three-month delay in breast cancer growth. None of the studies showed Avastin extended the lives of patients with advanced breast cancer.
Some patients also experienced severe side effects, including holes in the stomach and intestines, severe bleeding and blood clots.
Blue Shield says the incidence of these serious side effects was just under 3 percent greater for those taking Avastin, Reuters reports.
Roche was not immediately available for comment.