By Kate Merrill

BOSTON (CBS) – Five months ago, the blockbuster drug Avastin, taken by breast cancer patients was the focus of a heated hearing.

Today, the FDA says Avastin should no longer be used for advanced breast cancer because there’s no proof that it extends life or provides enough temporary benefit to outweigh the side effects.

“It’s considered to be less effective than the original studies has suggested,” says Dr. Harold Burstein, a breast cancer specialist at Dana Farber.

WBZ-TV’s Kate Merrill reports

Dr. Burstein says this doesn’t mean you can no longer get Avastin.

He says, “For women who are currently on the medicine, or for doctors who feel it’s an important part of treatment for women right now, I think it’s still going to be an option.”

Burstein says a year’s treatment with Avastin can cost $80,000. The drug is also used to treat lung and kidney cancers and brain tumors.

The state’s three biggest health insurance companies, Blue Cross, Harvard Pilgrim and Tufts, have no plans regarding Avastin. Those plans could be reviewed in the near future.


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