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Avastin's new licence 'more cost-effective'

Published on 30/01/08 at 12:40pm

Avastin has won a broader European licence for metastatic colorectal cancer, a move manufacturer Roche believes will make it more cost-effective.

The new label allows Avastin's use in combination with all standard chemotherapies, instead of just the two previously allowed, and this change in its use could lower the cost of the treatment regime overall.

"This is a major turning point in the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer patients. This approval means that many more patients can benefit from Avastin's significant survival benefits," said Professor Alberto Sobrero, oncologist at Hospital San Martino, Genoa, who works with Roche.

It is estimated that more than 400,000 people in Europe will be diagnosed with metastatic colorectal cancer in 2008. The new licence means virtually all patients with the disease could have access to Avastin, as it comes recommended as a first line treatment.

But, previously in the UK most NHS patients have been denied the drug on the basis of its high price and limited extension of life, and it has only been prescribed in 'exceptional cases'.

Both NICE and the Scottish Medicines Commission (SMC) rejected the drug, but Roche is confident the treatment could now pass the watchdogs' tough criteria and says the new licence could open the door to more NHS funding for Avastin.

The company intends to make an immediate application to the SMC for the new combination. Roche also highlighted the recent Cancer Reform Strategy from the Department of Health, which states it is not acceptable to cite a lack of NICE guidance as a reason for not prescribing a specific treatment.

Avastin is also awaiting a decision from NICE in the indication of renal cell carcinoma (RCC), which is expected in 2009.

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