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Health experts vote against Avastin

The risks and side-effects of a breast cancer drug outweighs its benefits, a study by US experts has revealed.

Health advisers from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that Avastin failed to show "meaningful" benefits for patients when used with the chemotherapy drug Docetaxel.

Cancer patients taking Avastin did not show significant improvement in lifespan, despite earlier studies suggesting that the cancer progression would be delayed by more than five months, the advisers said. Reported side-effects included high blood pressure and "abnormal" levels of white blood cells.

Avastin was approved for breast cancer patients in 2008 by the FDA after a trial showed that the drug delayed cancer progression significantly.

However, the results of two follow-up studies submitted recently by Avastin manufacturer Roche did not show the same degree of delay, compared with earlier studies.

Scientists from Roche argued that Avastin enabled patients to have an "improved quality of life". But health experts at the FDA were not convinced, and they voted unanimously that the side-effects of Avastin outweighed the benefits.

Copyright © Press Association 2010

US Food and Drug Administration