SMC rejects ovarian cancer drug

 The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has not recommended Roche’s Avastin (bevacizumab) for the treatment of women with advanced ovarian cancer.

The SMC raised concerns about the economic analysis presented by Roche, despite clinical data showing significantly increased progression free survival when compared with existing options.

Dr Nicholas Reed, Consultant in Clinical Oncology at the Beatson Oncology Centre, Glasgow, said the decision was “extremely disappointing” to oncologists and denies patients “a clinically active and effective drug.”

Avastin, Roche claim, is the first treatment in 15 years to improve outcomes for women with the disease and can help progression by up to six months when compared to chemotherapy alone.

Roche said the decision not to recommend the drug reinforces that fact that Scottish patients are three times less likely to get access to innovative cancer treatments than patients south of the border.

“The Scottish Government must act to prevent Scotland falling further behind England in access to innovative cancer drugs that address an unmet medical need and clearly benefit patients, or face a negative impact on clinical research as well as increasing difficulties in recruiting and retaining the best clinicians,” said John Melville, General Manager, Roche UK.

Since its updated license to treat ovarian cancer in January 2012, Avastin has been made available to patients in England via the Cancer Drugs Fund.

It’s estimated that around 330 women with advanced ovarian cancer in Scotland could benefit from the use of Avastin each year.