Avastin apparently significantly increases the risk of fatal complications from chemotherapy
Many new outlets, including Bloomberg, reported on February 1 that Avastin given in conjunction with chemotherapy apparently signfiicantly increases the risk of fatal complications. They report that 2.5 percent of patients given Avastin suffered deadly side effects, making the complication rate 46 percent higher than it is for patients getting chemo alone. The media is reporting on a study published in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association. It reviewed clinical trials involving 10, 217 patients in 16 different trials. The most common side effects were hemorrhage, gastrointestinal tract perforation and infection, and even with Avastin, the fatality rate is low. The risk is greatest when Avastin is combined with taxanes or platinum agents, which are most commonly used to treat lung and colon cancers. It is believed that the drug may delay recurrence or spread of advanced cancers, althouth it has not been shown to lengthen survival times. The Food and Drug Administration had already moved, in 2008, to withdraw approval of the use of Avastin in breast cancer patients, based on its combined record of safety issues and ineffectiveness. Its Swiss manufacturer reported Avastin sales of $5.75 billion dollars in 2009.