According to Reuters, Avastin remains a point of contention on Capitol Hill and in the medical community. While some lawmakers and physicians are displeased with the FDA proposal to block breast cancer patients’ access to the drug, four clinical trials showed that it did not extend survival. Now, research coming out of Harvard and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute indicates that Roche’s drug increases the likelihood of heart failure.
Before reaching that conclusion, investigators conducted a meta-analysis, eventually zeroing in on 3,784 patients, HealthDay reports. According to the paper in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, “1.6 percent of patients taking Avastin developed heart failure, which the authors characterized as ‘reasonably low.’” However, the “relative risk compared to placebo was almost five times as high in Avastin patients.”
FDA plan to withdraw approval of Avastin for breast cancer sparks controversy. USA Today reports that the FDA “last month said it plans to withdraw approval of Avastin for breast cancer because its risks outweigh its benefits,” but “given that breast cancer killed an estimated 40,000 US women in 2010…it’s not surprising that the” agency’s “move has sparked controversy.” Some “cite breast cancer patients whose lives were extended using Avastin,” but “others point to patients who died — or nearly died — because of the drug, not for lack of it.” In fact, two studies revealed that “Avastin users had a higher risk of dying from treatment side effects” like “heart attack, stroke, severe high blood pressure, holes in the intestines, blood clots and brain swelling, headaches and confusion.” Still, “critics…have likened the decision to rationing and the agency to a ‘death panel’ that decides who lives and who dies.”
From the American Association for Justice news release.