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The results of two international studies looking into the effectiveness of Avastin on ovarian cancer were disappointing, according to the Los Angeles Times. The drug, which was approved in Europe just last week, only provides women with advanced ovarian cancer 1 to 4 months of "progression-free survival."
The gain was also accompanied by side effects that required additional treatment. Side effects included high blood pressure and gastrointestinal complications.
Similar results last month led the Food and Drug Administration to revoke approval of Avastin as a breast cancer treatment. The drug only delayed tumor growth in those patients by 1 to 3 months, but left many with hypertension and hemorrhaging.
The FDA determined that the Avastin's small benefits didn't justify the risks posed to breast cancer patients.
This is why manufacturer Genentech will not seek FDA approval for Avastin as an ovarian cancer drug, reports the Associated Press. The data does not currently support the cost of seeking approval.
Still, some see hope in the studies' results. Alone, Avastin does not treat ovarian cancer. But when combined with chemotherapy and other treatments, it can prolong life, explains the Los Angeles Times. Researchers just need to determine which patients will most benefit from its use.
Patients who think the added time is worth the risk should speak to their doctors about prescribing Avastin for ovarian cancer. Though the drug is not approved for this use, it can legally be given for off-label purposes. However, be advised that insurance companies are unlikely to pay.