Last year I blogged about the Avastin debate where it was shown that it did not help women with advanced breast cancer. Now it down to the wire, there will be a meeting next week which will probably pull the plug on its use as a breast cancer drug.
But there are patients taking Avastin and claim it has saved their lives. They claim they benefit from it and don't want it pulled.
What is wrong here? I think lots of things.
- While Avastin is a promising drug in treating some cancers, it is not working to treat breast cancer. There is lots of data behind it saying it does not work.
- The patients who are receiving it, are they really benefiting from it? Or are they experiencing a placebo effect - maybe a few but not so many? Or is something else they are doing causing the decreases in their cancers - are they undergoing other treatment or did earlier treatments continue to have an effect?
I am not doubting either group. I can clearly see that there are some people benefiting from Avastin against their breast cancer. But I can also see some scientists who are looking at the data, which doesn't lie, and saying it doesn't work.
So I think that this clearly shows the gap in understanding about cancer. If more was understood about cancer, then there would not be two sides saying different things so strongly. I believe the patients when they say they are improved but science is saying they are wrong. Back to the research lab for the scientists.
An additional comment on Avastin is why does it cost so much? $88,000 for a full year of treatment sees a bit beyond what is affordable. If they go back to the drawing board for Avastin, I would like to see a bit of justification for its costs.