Avastin (bevacizumab): Fails Older Lung Cancer Patients

Another study of bevacizumab (Avastin), this time in lung cancer, showing minimal to no improvement in outcomes with treatment.  Remember this drug costs in the range of $80-100,000/year.

In a study being published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, those treated with bevacizumab and chemotherapy did not live significantly longer than those simply treated with chemo.

Patients aged 65 and older who received Avastin in addition to a standard chemotherapy regimen had a median overall survival of 9.7 months, according to the study to be published tomorrow in the Journal of the American Medical Association. While that was longer than the 8.9 months and 8 months for two groups of patients receiving chemotherapy only, the finding wasn’t statistically significant, said the researchers from the Dana- Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

Avastin, a $5.8 billion-a-year product also known as bevacizumab, won U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for non-small cell lung cancer in 2006, after a study found the therapy improved survival by a median of two months. That research showed no benefit among patients aged 65 and older, who are covered by Medicare, the government health-insurance program for the elderly and disabled. At least two-thirds of patients with lung cancer qualify for Medicare, which has covered Avastin for that use since FDA approval, the authors said.


Patients in the Avastin group had a 39.6 percent probability of surviving one year, compared with 40.1 percent getting chemotherapy from 2006-2007 and 35.6 percent for those treated earlier than 2006, the study found. More recent data might yield different results, the researchers said

Medicynical Note:  Roche may dispute the findings but what is clear is that bevacizumab (Avastin) has a minimal if any beneficial effect in elderly lung cancer patients.

This drug brings in 5.8 billion dollars in revenue to Roche, about the same amount as the cost of malpractice litigation in the U.S. (See previous Medicynic for details)  We’re talking big bucks for a drug with limited benefit. 

We have a non-system of care that costs too much.   Drugs such as bevacizumab (Avastin) are part of the problem.

More here

Bevacizumab should not be considered part of the “backbone” of treatment or the standard of care for older patients with advanced disease, said lead author Deborah Schrag, MD, MPH, from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. She spoke at a press conference, held in Washington, DC, on the journal’s new issue, which centers on comparative effectiveness research.

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