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Avastin Approval for Breast Cancer Withdrawn

The FDA has changed its mind about treating breast cancer with Avastin. This anti-angiogenesis drug was hailed as a breakthrough against colon cancer when it was approved in 2004. THe drug works by blocking the development of blood vessels that feed tumors. Avastin is also approved by FDA for the treatment of certain kidney, lung and brain cancers.
In 2008 the agency approved its use for metastatic breast cancer, but that approval has just been withdrawn. More recent research did not show that patients on Avastin lived longer or better. They did experience side effects, however, including life-threatening hemorrhage, stomach or intestinal perforations, serious hypertension, heart attacks, heart failure and jaw-bone death. Some breast cancer patients have responded exceptionally well to Avastin, however, and they are objecting to the FDA decision. Even though doctors can continue to prescribe the drug off-label for breast cancer patients, insurance companies may decline coverage. Because the drug costs tens of thousands of dollars a year, many women will not be able to afford it.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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