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FDA says Avastin can't be used to treat breast cancer

The logo of Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche.

TEXT OF STORY

JEREMY HOBSON: The FDA says the world's best selling cancer medication can't be used to treat breast cancer. The drug is called Avastin. And it's made by the pharmaceutical company Roche.

Marketplace's Janet Babin reports.


JANET BABIN: Avastin brings in about $6 billion a year for Roche; the FDA's move could cut $1 billion in sales. The FDA said Avastin didn't extend patient survival and was accompanied by serious side effects. Dr. Hyman Muss at the University of North Carolina says in his experience, those side effects are manageable. He says the FDA's unusual decision might have something to do with the cost.

HYMAN MUSS: Insurers, medicare reimbursing for the cost of the drug -- it's certainly the cost of healthcare.

Roche says it will appeal the FDA decision. Until that hearing, Avastin remains FDA approved for breast cancer.

In New York, I'm Janet Babin for Marketplace.

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