Avastin is a drug used to treat metastatic colorectal cancer, which is colon or rectum cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. In addition, Avastin is FDA approved for treating metastatic breast cancer. Although Avastin does not cure cancer, it has been proven in studies to delay tumor growth. In addition, Avastin may extend cancer patients’ lives by a few months.
Avastin is a monoclonal antibody. Antibodies are proteins made naturally by the body’s immune system that help identify and fight foreign substances. In a lab, scientists can make many copies of one kind of antibody. These lab-made antibodies are referred to as “monoclonal antibodies because they are “clones of a single antibody type.
Avastin is given intravenously (into a vein) every 14 days and is typically combined with chemotherapy. The chemotherapy regimen that the FDA has approved for use with Avastin is known as IFL. IFL consists of irinotecan, 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), and leucovorin.
How Avastin Works
Avastin is the first in a new class of drugs called angiogenesis inhibitors. Angiogenesis inhibiters, such as Avastin, are believed to work by targeting and inhibiting the function of a natural protein called “vascular endothelial growth factor,” which stimulates new blood vessel formation. When this protein is bound to Avastin, it cannot stimulate the growth of blood vessels, thus denying tumors blood, oxygen and other nutrients needed for growth.
Avastin is one of the most expensive drugs on the market, costing between $50k and $100k a year. In fact, doctors and editorials have criticized the high cost, because Avastin neither cures cancer nor significantly prolongs life. Due to the low ratio of benefits compared to costs associated with Avastin, many U.S. insurance companies will not pay for all or part of the drug. Still, Genentech, Avastin’s manufacturer, argues that the benefit is worth the cost and that the high costs pays for expensive research needed to develop new drugs.
Avastin Side Effects
In addition to being expensive, Avastin can cause serious side effects, and even death. The most serious side effects associated with Avastin include:
- holes in the colon requiring surgery to repair (gastrointestinal perforation)
- impaired wound healing
- bleeding leading to stroke or death (especially in lung cancer patients)
- heart failure in certain patients
- kidney damage
If you or a family member were treated with Avastin and suffered a serious side effect, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Please Contact Us today.