Bevacizumab, also known as Avastin, should not be used as a first-line treatment for people with metastatic breast cancer, the UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has said.

In its guidance for the NHS, NICE said that there was insufficient evidence to suggest that the drug, manufactured by Hoffman-La Roche subsidiary Genentech, could extend a patient’s life.

NICE chief executive Sir Andrew Dillon said, “The evidence for the effectiveness of bevacizumab in prolonging survival was not robust and overall did not show enough of a demonstrable benefit for it to be considered a cost-effective use of NHS resources.”

Clinical data has susggested that, in breast cancer patients whose tumours have spread, bevacizumab plus paclitaxel may slow the growth of the cancer by around five months more than paclitaxel alone.

However, there is no evidence to show if the drug could offer a better quality of life than existing treatments.

The US Food and Drug Administration voted to rescind bevacizumab’s licence in December 2010 because of concerns over efficacy.