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FDA approves new use for Roche's Avastin in colon cancer treatment

(Reuters) - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved the use of Roche's Avastin for patients whose colorectal cancer has worsened despite previous treatment with the drug.

The new use will allow patients first treated with Avastin plus chemotherapy to be treated again with the biotechnology drug in combination with a different chemotherapy regimen.

A pivotal clinical trial showed that such a treatment strategy improved survival.

"The majority of people diagnosed with metastatic colorectal cancer receive Avastin plus chemotherapy as their initial treatment," Hal Barron, chief medical officer at Roche's Genentech unit, 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, also known as bevacizumab, is an antibody that blocks vascular endothelial growth factor, or VEGF, a protein tumors need to grow nutrient-providing blood vessels.

The drug is approved in the United States for treating glioblastoma, a brain tumor, and colorectal, lung and kidney cancers.

Worldwide Avastin sales totaled $5.3 billion Swiss francs ($5.5 billion) in 2011.

(Reporting By Deena Beasley; editing by Carol Bishopric)

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