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Surprising Science

FDA Bans Breast Cancer Treatment Avastin

The Food and Drug Administration has banned a popular treatment for breast cancer, in use since 2008. Some patients claim the drug works; the FDA says the harms outweigh the benefits.

What’s the Latest Development?

The FDA has banned Avastin, a popular breast cancer treatment, due to concerns over harmful side effects. The blockbuster pharmaceutical drug entered the market in 2008 through FDA’s accelerated approval program but after subsequent tests, the health body declared that Avastin has not been shown to decrease tumor growth or increase life expectancy in breast cancer patients. It will continue to be prescribed, however, for other types of cancer including lung, kidney and brain.

What’s the Big Idea?

The FDA’s accelerated approval program is designed to get beneficial drugs to patients sooner. As a result, subsequent tests must be performed to guarantee the drugs are safe. In the case of Avastin, while some breast cancer patients have lobbied for the drug to remain on the market, FDA says the risks outweigh the benefits. It remains unclear whether insurance companies will continue to pay for the drug, which can costs upwards of $90,000 annually.

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