Decision Resources, one of the world's leading research and advisory firms for pharmaceutical and healthcare issues, finds that Roche/Chugai's Avastin is prescribed by the majority of surveyed oncologists for glioblastoma multiforme, non-small-cell lung cancer and breast cancer. Additionally, the drug is prescribed by all surveyed oncologists for colorectal cancer. However, the high cost of Avastin remains a barrier to treatment for nearly one-fifth of eligible cancer patients, according to surveyed oncologists.

The new Physician & Payer Forum report entitled Is Avastin Unassailable? Will Its Dominance in Breast, Colorectal, and Lung Cancers Be Challenged by Drugs with Validated Biomarkers? finds that -- in addition to its widespread use in glioblastoma multiforme, non-small-cell lung cancer, breast cancer and colorectal cancer -- Avastin is prescribed by 41 percent of surveyed oncologists for renal cell carcinoma and by 34 percent of surveyed oncologists for ovarian cancer. The report also finds that, when asked what limits their use of the drug for certain cancer types, Avastin prescribers most often cite the agent's side effects as well as a cost/benefit ratio that is unfavorable for some patients.

Largely owing to its high cost, most surveyed managed care organizations' (MCOs) pharmacy directors place significant restrictions on the reimbursement and use of Avastin. Avastin is excluded from 40 percent of surveyed Medicare prescription drug plans as well as 20 percent of Medicare Advantage plans, according to the report. In total, oncologists estimate that 18 percent of eligible patients fail to receive Avastin due to its cost. Of these patients, more than one-third have health insurance but cannot afford the out-of-pocket costs.

"In our survey, one third of the commercial plans that include Avastin levy coinsurance charges and one half of Medicare prescription drug plans do the same," said Decision Resources Director Mary Fletcher-Louis, M.A., M.P.H. "On average, commercial plans charge patients about one-fifth of the cost of Avastin and prescription drug plans charge about one-quarter of the cost. If Avastin were less expensive, two-thirds of the pharmacy directors we surveyed said they would lower their co-insurance charge."

Is Avastin Unassailable? Will Its Dominance in Breast, Colorectal, and Lung Cancers Be Challenged by Drugs with Validated Biomarkers? is based on a U.S. survey of 100 oncologists and 20 MCO pharmacy directors. Their responses were compared to assess similarities and differences of opinion regarding clinical, economic and scientific factors.

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