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Published on 1 April 2009

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Panel backs new use for cancer drug

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A medicine already used to tackle certain types of lung, breast and colon cancer should have its approval by the US drugs watchdog to treat brain tumours speeded up, according to a panel of experts.

Preliminary studies of Avastin by its maker Genentech shows between 20% and 25% of cancer patients responded to the treatment.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said its panel of 10 outside experts unanimously voted that preliminary results in brain cancer patients warrant accelerated approval. This gives early market access to drugs that show promising early results.

Avastin was initially approved in 2004 and was the first drug to fight cancer by choking off blood flow to tumours. The watchdog is not required to follow the advice of its panel, but it often does.

Genentech, now owned by Swiss drug maker Roche, also said there had been “virtually no improvements have been made since the 1970s” in treatment for this particular type of cancer, known medically as recurring glioblastoma multiforme.

Copyright Press Association 2009

Genentech



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