Missing data provokes another Avastin fail

Avastin 5 Draft guidance from NICE does not recommend Avastin (bevacizumab) for treatment of recurrent advanced ovarian cancer.

NICE’s appraisal committee determined that the Roche drug, when used in combination with the chemotherapy drugs gemcitabine and carboplatin, did not represent good value for the NHS.

The main reason for the decision was that clinical data were unavailable for a third of clinical trial participants, for reasons unknown to NICE.

Recurrent advanced ovarian cancer, when the cancer has returned following initial treatment and has spread beyond the ovaries, is terminal. However, NICE did not accept that Avastin qualified as an end of life treatment.

Roche’s submission highlighted the fact that Avastin together with chemotherapy offers a median progression-free survival benefit of four months more than chemotherapy alone.

However, NICE stated that “the data from around 30 of the patients had been censored” and the impact of that on progression-free survival rates was “unclear”.

The committee further noted that Roche’s estimated ICER of £149,050 per QALY gained “was likely to be optimistic”.

In addition, it said, there was insufficient evidence of overall survival benefit, and there was no patient access scheme. The latter has become a key deal-breaker for NICE in recent years.

Ovarian cancer affects around 7,000 new patients in the UK each year, and Roche estimates that over 2,000 women would be eligible for treatment with Avastin if it were approved in this indication.

Avastin has received several NICE rejections in recent years, as it offers some progression-free survival benefit but is costly. Many UK patients currently receive it via the Cancer Drugs Fund, which is soon to be discontinued.