FDA Revokes Approval of Avastin for Breast Cancer

November 18, 2011 - 11:55 AM
Breast Cancer Drug FDA Preview

This undated photo provided Jan. 31, 2011, by California-based Genentech Inc., shows the blockbuster cancer drug Avastin. A new analysis raises fresh questions about the risks of Avastin, suggesting the chance of dying from side effects linked to it is higher than the risk for patients on chemotherapy alone. (AP Photo/Genentech Inc.)

Washington (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration has declared the blockbuster drug Avastin should no longer be used in breast cancer patients because there's no proof it extends their lives — and it is causing dangerous side effects.

Friday's ruling was long expected, but is sure to disappoint women who say they've run out of other options.

FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg called the decision difficult but said patients must have confidence that drugs sold for their condition are effective.

Avastin won't stop selling, as it's also used to treat colon cancer and certain other tumors, but the FDA ruling is expected to influence insurance coverage. Medicare says it will continue to cover Avastin while it evaluates whether a change is needed.