Blue Shield in California, which is a health insurance company with 3.2 million members…
is the first among the large insurers in the company to announce that they will no longer be providing coverage for the breast cancer drug called Avastin, following a unanimous recommendation by a federal advisory committee that the Food and Drug Administration rescind the medication’s approval as a treatment for the disease, stating that patients were not helped by its use.
That said, Avastin is still holding onto its approval, as commissioner Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg from the FDA continues to consider the case before making the final decision.
As this is a highly controversial issue both politically and emotionally, as some women are crediting Avastin with their lives, many insurance companies have decided to hold off their choice as to whether or not to continue coverage for the drug, until the F.D.A. gives their own verdict. Medicare has claimed that even if the approval for Avastin is revoked by the F.D.A., it will continue to pay for the drug.
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Blue Shield, on the other hand, has chosen not to wait for the F.D.A.’s decision and left a post on their official website which said that October 17 would be the last day that they will accept claims for reimbursement for Avastin as a breast cancer treatment. They did add that “exceptions may be considered on a case-by-case basis.”
Spokesperson for the insurer, Stephen M. Shivinsky, explained their decision by saying that they agreed with the advisory committee. He also added that women already using Avastin will still be covered for the drug.