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Roche’s Avastin Fails to Win NICE Ovarian Cancer Backing

Roche Holding AG (ROG)’s anti-tumor drug Avastin failed to win the backing of the U.K.’s health-cost regulator as a treatment for advanced ovarian cancer in a draft decision released today.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence recommended against using the drug at the dosage for which it’s currently licensed, the agency said today in an e-mailed statement. The existence of two different dosages -- the licensed dose of 15 milligrams per kilogram of body weight, plus a smaller dose often prescribed by doctors -- made it difficult to say for certain how effective the medicine is, NICE said.

Although Avastin used together with paclitaxel and carboplatin chemotherapy did seem to help delay the cancer’s spread, “it was unclear whether this translated into an overall survival benefit,” Andrew Dillon, NICE’s chief executive, said in the statement. “There was no evidence to show that the clinical benefit of the treatment justifies its cost, when compared to existing treatments.”

Ovarian cancer is among the diseases Roche has said will drive growth for Avastin, the Basel, Switzerland-based company’s second-biggest-selling drug last year. The ovarian cancer market in the U.S., France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the U.K. and Japan may more than triple to $1.4 billion in the next decade, research firm Decision Resources said on Dec. 10.

Roche’s Disappointment

“Roche is disappointed that, as part of its review, NICE did not consider the entirety of evidence that was presented to them for Avastin as a first-line treatment of advanced ovarian cancer, and will continue to work with NICE to secure a positive recommendation for Avastin in this setting,” spokeswoman Silvia Dobry said in an e-mailed statement.

Avastin treatment for a 65-kilogram (143-pound) U.K. patient with advanced ovarian cancer costs about 36,000 pounds ($58,000) at the licensed dose, according to NICE. Roche didn’t submit a proposal to the U.K. Department of Health to make Avastin more cost-effective, the agency said. Some companies offer to reduce prices by as much as 50 percent, NICE Chairman Michael Rawlins said this month.

The agency said it would give a final ruling on the drug next year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Naomi Kresge in Berlin at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Phil Serafino at

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