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FDA may end Avastin use for breast cancer

WASHINGTON — A Food and Drug Administration panel took a major step Wednesday toward ending use of the best-selling drug Avastin for treating advanced breast cancer in the United States, despite appeals from distraught patients and the company manufacturing the drug.

The six-member FDA advisory committee unanimously concluded that the drug was harming women more than it was helping them. FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg must make a final decision, but agency commissioners usually follow advisory panel recommendations.

The fate of the drug for breast cancer has been closely watched by patients, oncologists, women's health advocates, health-care policymakers, politicians and the pharmaceutical industry. The case has triggered strong reactions from advocates of easier access to new treatments and from critics fearing health-care rationing. It is also being seen as one of the most visible medical examples of scientific evidence winning out over an animated public outcry.

Forced medication OK'd for Loughner

SAN DIEGO — Accused Tucson gunman Jared Lee Loughner can be forced to take anti-psychotic drugs while doctors attempt to make him fit to stand trial in the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

Loughner, 22, is accused of killing six and wounding 13 during a Jan. 8 rampage as Giffords was greeting constituents. The Arizona Democrat was shot in the head but survived.

"I defer to medical doctors," U.S. District Court Judge Larry Burns said at an emergency hearing requested by the defense.

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