Dr. Hal Barron, chief medical officer and head of Global Product Development at Roche, said the approval would allow patients who received Avastin, or bevacizumab, plus an irinotecan or oxaliplatin -- cancer drugs -- containing chemotherapy as an initial treatment for people with metastatic colorectal cancer, or cancer that had spread, to continue to receive Avastin plus a different irinotecan or oxaliplatin containing chemotherapy after their cancer worsens.
"The majority of people diagnosed with metastatic colorectal cancer receive Avastin plus chemotherapy as their initial treatment," Barron said in a statement. "These people now have the option to continue with Avastin plus a new chemotherapy after their cancer worsens, which may help them live longer than changing to the new chemotherapy alone.
Avastin was already approved in Europe in combination with fluoropyrimidine-based chemotherapy for the treatment of adult patients with metastatic carcinoma of the colon or rectum. The European product information has been updated based on the positive results of the drug trial.
Avastin is a prescription-only medicine that is a solution for intravenous infusion. It is a biologic antibody designed to specifically bind to a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor that plays an important role throughout the lifecycle of the tumor to develop and maintain blood vessels, a process known as angiogenesis.
The drug was designed to interfere with the tumor blood supply by directly binding to the VEGF protein to prevent interactions with receptors on blood vessel cells. The tumor blood supply is thought to be critical to a tumor's ability to grow and metastasize in the body, Barron said.