Breast cancer drug on the FDA chopping block

Monday - 6/20/2011, 12:17pm EDT

Genentech is appealing the FDA's decision to ban the drug Avastin for breast cancer treatment. (AP Photo)

Kathy Stewart, wtop.com

WASHINGTON -- The battle over a breast cancer drug will be heating up at the end of the month after the Federal Drug Administration banned its use.

In 2008, Avastin -- typically taken to treat kidney and colon cancer -- had been fast-tracked to also treat breast cancer. But after the drug's maker, Genentech, completed its third clinical trial, the FDA decided to pull the plug.

Dr. Frederick Tucker, a Fredericksburg oncologist, says the drug simply did not work.

He says the best Genentech could claim is that "Avastin didn't make patients worse." It also did not help them live longer or better while taking the medication.

If Genentech fails to reverse the FDA's decision, the company could lose between $500 million and $1 billion, says Tucker.

A new round of hearings is set for June 28 and 29.

Avastin has already been banned in England for breast cancer patients.

WTOP's Kathy Stewart contributed to this report. Follow WTOP on Twitter.

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