California Blues won't cover controversial breast cancer drug

Blue Shield of California will stop covering the breast cancer drug Avastin as of Oct. 17. However, it will still pay for the drug if deemed necessary on a case-by-case basis or if members are currently under treatment with the drug, reports the New York Times.

The decision makes Blue Shield the largest insurer to stop coverage of Avastin. Three other regional insurers--Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield, Excellus, and Dakotacare--have already stopped covering Avastin for breast cancer, reports MedPageToday.

A federal advisory committee unanimously recommended in June that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rescind the drug's approval as a treatment for breast cancer based on two studies showing it wasn't effective and its risks outweighed benefits, according to the Dow Jones Newswires. The FDA hasn't yet decided whether to continue Avastin's approval and there's no timeframe set for when that decision will be made.

Regardless of the FDA's decision, Medicare said it will continue to pay for Avastin when it's used to treat metastatic breast cancer, MedPageToday notes.

To learn more:
- read the New York Times article
- see the MedPageToday article
- check out the Dow Jones Newswires article