POSTED: Wednesday, June 29, 2011 - 2:04pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, June 29, 2011 - 2:09pm
NBC NEWS — The cancer treating drug, Avastin, is at the center of a tug of war tonight. The U.S. government says it should be pulled off the market, while gravely ill women with breast cancer say it's the last hope they now have.
The battle over the cancer drug Avastin, and whether it should stay on the market for terminal breast cancer patients, started outside the FDA today, and quickly moved inside.
Dozens of patients, doctors and family members told the panel why they think the drug helped curb their cancer's growth.
Many patients that testified are what doctors call "super responders", meaning their experience with Avastin was better than that of other patients.
But several people said the FDA’s proposal to remove the breast cancer indication for Avastin is the right decision, because the studies haven't shown an overall survival benefit.
If the drug is taken off the market for breast cancer, patients will likely have to pay the $90,000 per year bill to keep treatment going. It's a price tag many women say they can't afford, so they're asking the FDA to make sure these super responders still have access.
Others worry making drug approval decisions based on emotional pleas, and not scientific evidence, will be a setback in the search for a cure.
Panel members will vote on whether they think Avastin should continue to be approved for breast cancer later in the day. However, that panel doesn't have the last word.
FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg will make the final decision in a few weeks.