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Avastin

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Avastin (Bevacizumab) is a drug used to treat cancers by attacking their blood supply. It costs a fortune and doesn't work terribly well.

It was originally approved for the treatment of colorectal cancer in 2005. Genentech (owned by Roche) has been steadily applying for approval for other cancers. This includes breast (approved), eye (approved), renal (approved), lung (approved), and are working on many others.

Strangely it has become a lightning rod in the death panel discussions because it is not covered by public insurance. What isn't mentioned is that it has never been covered by any insurance company. This is largely because it is one of the most expensive medications ever approved by the FDA, running over $100,000 a year (or ~$4,000 for the shot every 14 days). Also original studies have placed the improvement in lifespan in colorectal cancer at around 3 months, while use for other cancers have shown so little improvement the FDA and advisory panels (originally advisory panels voted against it[1]) are looking for additional data not to revoke their approval. It also comes with some tremendous side effects, such as not being able to heal well from normal injuries and worsening of coronary/peripheral artery diseases.

Somehow it's a death panel only if public insurance companies do not cover it, but good business practices if private insurers don't.[2]

References[edit]