Health Care Trends With a Social Media Twist
I have been following the news over the future of Avastin, a drug that was approved under the FDA's accelerated approval pathway after an early study showed women taking Avastin with paclitaxel had an additional 5.5 months of progression-free survival compared to taking just paclitaxel. For those of you who don't know, an FDA panel voted on Wednesday that Avastin is not safe and effective when used against metastatic HER2-negative breast cancer and should no longer be approved to treat it. The FDA commissioner still needs to make the final decision on the drug label change.
Despite the evidence, many breast cancer survivors continue to stand by Avastin and have said it worked wonders for them. Many of those passionate women showed up at the FDA hearings to let their voices be heard. They're afraid that if the FDA removes the breast cancer indication for this drug, insurance won't cover it. However, Medicare says it will not stop covering Avastin for the breast cancer indicition just because of the FDA label change.
Emily Walker, of MedPage Today, has been covering the FDA hearings. Her recent article gives a raw, detailed account from both sides on this issue. I recommend reading it.
It's important to note that regardless of the FDA's decision, Avastin will remain on the market. It's also approved to treat metastatic colorectal cancer, metastatic nonsquamous non-small cell lung cancer, metastatic renal cell carcinoma, and as a second- or third-line treatment for glioblastoma multiforme. So doctors would still be able to prescribe it off-label for breast cancer.