6. July 2012 11:32
Roche has questioned the methods used by NICE in its appraisal of Avastin (bevacizumab) after it was not recommended as a first line treatment for advanced breast cancer in draft guidance.
Avastin, in combination with Xeloda, was being appraised in patients whom treatment with chemotherapy options, including taxanes or anthracyclines, is not considered appropriate.
However, Roche said NICE had a “lack of belief in a biologically plausible explanation for why Avastin works so well” which resulted in the failure to recommend the treatment.
The Swiss-based company claim the Institute ignored the progression free survival (PFS) and overall survival benefits of the drug demonstrated in clinical trials. Instead Roche said NICE chose to review data in the context of the entire population of women with metastatic breast cancer.
NICE admits evidence supplied by Roche did suggest Avastin “could delay cancer from progressing” longer than Xeloda alone, but said there was no evidence which showed it led to “an improvement in overall survival”.
Sir Andrew Dillon added there was no information available on whether Avastin improves a patient’s quality of life. “Taking these uncertainties into account as well as the high cost of the drug, the committee concluded that bevacizumab was not a cost-effective use of NHS resources,” he said.
Patients with metastatic breast cancer can still apply for access of Avastin through the Cancer Drugs Fund.
Final guidance is now expected in August 2012.