Patients with advanced ovarian cancer in Scotland have been dealt a blow after cost regulators barred National Health Service access to Roche's Avastin.

Avastin (bevacizumab) was approved in Europe for the treatment of advanced ovarian cancer (in combination with chemotherapy) in January this year, on clinical data showing that it could halt the progression of the disease for six months more than chemotherapy alone.

According to Roche, around 330 women with advanced ovarian cancer in Scotland could benefit from treatment with Avastin every year. 

But the Scottish Medicines Consortium concluded that the treatment’s cost in relation to its health benefits was not sufficient, and it said the firm failed to "present a sufficiently robust economic analysis to gain acceptance".

Roche argues that Avastin has been widely 'prescribed' by clinicians in England through the Cancer Drugs Fund, and that the SMC's decision "reinforces the fact that people in Scotland are three times less likely to get access to a new cancer drug compared to their neighbours south of the border".

"The Scottish Government must act to prevent Scotland falling further behind England in access to innovative cancer drugs that address an unmet medical need and clearly benefit patients, or face a negative impact on clinical research as well as increasing difficulties in recruiting and retaining the best clinicians," warned John Melville, General Manager of Roche UK.