Saturday, December 11, 2010

Avastin, the FDA, death panels and rationed healthcare (Video)




















FDA decision on Avastin for use in treating breast cancer due on December 17th

Avastin is a drug typically prescribed to patients suffering with late-stage metastatic breast cancer. While it has been proven that Avastin extends a patients survival time it is by no means a panacea. The length of the survival time varies and Avastin comes with a risk/reward profile such that all drugs have.

One need only watch the myriad of commercials hawking medicines in which the list of risks will typically be longer than the potential rewards to understand that fact.

But will the upcoming decision on Avastin, a drug with substantial side-effects as well as substantial potential benefits, be a referendum on the drug itself or on the cost born by the insurance companies and the federal government through Medicare and Medicaid when it is prescribed.

Will this decision be the poster child for the rationing of healthcare and yes, an example of the oft mentioned death panels where decisions are made more by the expense incurred than by the potential benefit to the patient.

I was alerted to this upcoming decision by someone whose mother was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer (see her story here)(sign a petition here). She was given Avastin and after a long tough fight today lives cancer free. Tell this family and others like it that the risk/reward is not worth the expense.

If Avastin is denied, is this our introduction to the pain of Obamacare that was anticipated when it passed? Just remember what Paul Krugman said to understand the concern:

"What I meant is that health care costs will have to be controlled, which will surely require having Medicare and Medicaid decide what they're willing to pay for -- not really death panels, of course, but consideration of medical effectiveness and, at some point, how much we're willing to spend for extreme care."

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