NHS veto for cancer drug Avastin

A DRUG to treat advanced breast cancer has been rejected for use on the NHS just days before US regulators decide its fate in America.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) said Avastin (bevacizumab) offers "limited and uncertain benefit" for patients and does not lead to any significant extension of life.

The decision comes after Trudy Cusworth, 40, who lives near Selby, who is suffering from terminal breast cancer this week revealed her appeal to a new Government emergency drugs fund had been successful and she is to get an initial course of Avastin.

She has faced a battle to get the drug after a panel at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust told her she did not need it – even though her oncologist from the same trust said she would benefit.

Nice appraised Avastin in combination with a type of chemotherapy for treating breast cancer which has spread around the body.

In the US the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is preparing to announce its decision on the use of Avastin in breast cancer. In July, the FDA's advisory panel voted in favour of revoking approval for the drug, as it did not offer a "clinically meaningful" benefit.

European regulators are also reviewing the benefits of Avastin for breast cancer.

Sir Andrew Dillon, chief executive of Nice, said: "We know that it's immensely important for breast cancer patients whose disease has spread to prolong their lives as much as possible.

"Unfortunately, we did not receive any evidence from the manufacturer to show that bevacizumab can significantly lengthen a patient's life or, importantly, offer a better quality of life than existing treatments."