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Drug Name: Bevacizumab
Brand Name: Avastin by Genentech (purchased by Roche)
FDA approval: 2004

Intended Use:  Bevacizumab (Avastin™) was the first FDA-approved biological therapy designed to inhibit the formation of new blood vessels to tumors. Avastin, in combination with carboplatin and paclitaxel, both chemotherapy drugs, is given intravenously for the treatment of patients with locally advanced, recurrent or metastatic non-squamous, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Bevacizumab is also approved for the treatment of colorectal, and breast cancers.

Treatment:  Bevacizumab is an angiogenic inhibitor, or an anti-tumor drug, that attacks a process called angiogenesis. Angiogenesis is the process in which a tumor nourishes itself through a network of blood vessels. With this nourishment the tumors grow (or metastasize) and eventually cause death in the patient.

Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) has been identified as one of the most potent protein supporting tumor growth. “In addition to affecting tumor growth, VEGF promotes formation of new capillaries surrounding the tumor, providing increased nutrients for growth and a convenient route for tumor cells to spread throughout the body,” according to a National Cancer Institute Fact Sheet. Bevacizumab was developed to inhibit VEGF.

In NSCLC treatment, Avastin is administered once every 3 weeks. At the beginning of the treatment (usually for the first 6 cycles), Avastin is given along with chemotherapy. After that, Avastin alone is continued for as long as the treating doctor recommends.

Side effects include: GI perforation, slow wound healing, and hemoptysis (coughing up blood). These will be monitored by your medical team.

In the News:

  • The Food and Drug Administration granted accelerated approval to Roche’s cancer drug Avastin as a treatment for glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer. The FDA sped up its review since it has been over 10 years since a new treatment for glioblastoma was approved. (May 6, 2009)
  • Simcere Pharmeceuticals announced on March 4, 2008, that it is a gold medal winner of the 10th Outstanding Chinese Patented Invention Award from the State Intellectual Property Office of the People’s Republic of China. Simcere received the award for the methodology they pioneered to produce Endostar. Although Endostar is not approved for use in the United States it is another angiogenic inhibitor. (They have applied for FDA approval.)
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