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Avastin Access for Breast Cancer: the Debate Continues

By July 30, 2010December 5th, 2023Awareness

Last week we learned that the US Food and Drug Administration was considering an advisory panel recommendation to revoke Avastin’s use as a drug therapy for breast cancer. We are following this story closely as Avastin is now being used by a number of individuals with NF2 following published research showing tumor shrinkage and hearing restoration in some patients,  including the landmark  New England Journal of Medicine paper from Mass General in July 2009. Today the Wall Street Journal  reports that David Vitter, Republican Senator from Louisiana says that the FDA’s decision is ‘government rationing’.  Reports on Avastin’s use have suggested that the lifespan of a breast cancer patient may be extended by the drug for just under 3 months on average.  Vitter, who lost his mother to breast cancer, and is an advocate for those living with breast cancer, slams the government for “assigning a value to a day of a person’s life”.

An FDA decision on this is no expected until the fall but we will watch this story closely, because drug access decisions made for one condition might well later have impact on drug access decisions for  another condition. CTF is currently conducting a survey of individuals with NF2 who are taking Avastin, and so far, though we have received a modest number of responses, it is clear that Avastin has offered hope  to at least a few individuals living with NF2. Once we have a critical mass of information we hope to make it more widely available and that if Avastin does show broader promise in clinical management NF2, this information might even help provide support for securing access to the drug for those who can benefit from it.