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Avastin (bevacizumab) is not recommended for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer in new guidance from NICE

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has today (23 February) published final guidance to the NHS not recommending the use of bevacizumab (Avastin, Roche Products), when used in combination with a taxane (a type of chemotherapy drug), as a first-line treatment for people with metastatic breast cancer.

Sir Andrew Dillon, NICE Chief Executive, said: “The evidence for the effectiveness of bevacizumab in prolonging survival was not robust and overall did not show enough of a demonstrable benefit for it to be considered a cost-effective use of NHS resources.”

An independent Appraisal Committee, who developed this guidance on behalf of NICE, considered evidence from the manufacturer, clinical experts and patient and PCT representatives. Clinical trial data suggested that, for breast cancer patients whose tumours have spread elsewhere in the body, bevacizumab (when used with the taxane drug, paclitaxel) may slow the growth and spread of the cancer by around five months more than paclitaxel alone. However, due to uncertainties in the evidence, the committee was unable to conclude whether bevacizumab could extend a patient's life, or how long for. There was also no evidence to show if the drug could offer a better quality of life than existing treatments.

Sir Andrew Dillon added: “NICE is committed to ensuring the most effective and efficient treatments, both for patients and the NHS, are available to those who need them. With this in mind, we already recommend a range of treatment options for patients with metastatic breast cancer in our clinical guideline for advanced breast cancer."

The publication of this NICE guidance for bevacizumab comes after the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP), part of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), recently recommended restricting the treatment's UK marketing authorization so that doctors only prescribe bevacizumab in combination with the taxane drug, paclitaxel. Meanwhile, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) voted in December 2010 to completely rescind bevacizumab's licence in America because of concerns over efficacy.

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Notes to Editors

  • The guidance is available to view at http://guidance.nice.org.uk/TA214 (from Wednesday 23 February 2011).
  • The NICE clinical guideline for advanced breast cancer includes recommendations for clinicians on a range of treatments options for patients with this form of the disease. The guideline is available to view at http://guidance.nice.org.uk/CG81.

About NICE

1. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is the independent organisation responsible for providing national guidance and standards on the promotion of good health and the prevention and treatment of ill health

2. NICE produces guidance in three areas of health:

  • public health - guidance on the promotion of good health and the prevention of ill health for those working in the NHS, local authorities and the wider public and voluntary sector
  • health technologies - guidance on the use of new and existing medicines, treatments, medical technologies (including devices and diagnostics) and procedures within the NHS
  • clinical practice - guidance on the appropriate treatment and care of people with specific diseases and conditions within the NHS.

3. NICE produces standards for patient care:

  • quality standards - these reflect the very best in high quality patient care, to help healthcare practitioners and commissioners of care deliver excellent services
  • Quality and Outcomes Framework - NICE develops the clinical and health improvement indicators in the QOF, the Department of Health scheme which rewards GPs for how well they care for patients

4. NICE provides advice and support on putting NICE guidance and standards into practice through its implementation programme, and it collates and accredits high quality health guidance, research and information to help health professionals deliver the best patient care through NHS Evidence.

This page was last updated: 21 February 2011

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Accessibility | Cymraeg | Freedom of information | Vision Impaired | Contact Us | Glossary | Data protection | Copyright | Disclaimer | Terms and conditions

Copyright 2014 National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. All rights reserved.