Avastin is one of the most effective cancer fighting drugs available. Made by U.S. pharmaceutical Genentech (yes, American made, by that out-of-date, heartless, free-market American health care system), it has had remarkable success in treating colon, rectum, lung and other cancers when used in tandem with (and even without) chemotherapy. Recently, it’s shown promise in treating late stage breast cancer as well, which has created great excitement among patients, families and the medical community. Some call it a blockbuster. But the Food and Drug Administration has revoked its use for breast cancer treatment because of its expense (see Merrill Matthews at Forbes.com). It is expensive, but when is it government’s role to determine how much something should cost?
While I’m asking rhetorical questions, let me ask this one as well: What does this have to do with ObamaCare? It’s obvious. While president himself says ObamaCare will not affect end-of-life decisions nor rationing, the FDA has taken the first step. If the FDA bans the drug because of cost, insurance companies won’t cover it. (Some already have, even though the manufacturer has appealed the decision, and Medicare, a key player in ObamaCare, appears ready to follow suit.) If insurance won’t cover it, isn’t that rationing? Furthermore, Obamacare claims to cover pre-existing conditions. But if there is no drug to treat the condition, are they really covering pre-existing conditions? If a tree falls in the woods . . .
As Grace-Maire Turner, a scholar at the Galen Institute, writes in the Daily Globe this week, ObamaCare fears already are being realized. Proving the point with a touching real life example is, here an excerpt from a Peter Pitts column on Nicole Brochu’s Our Health blog at the BaltimoreSun.com. He reports on a Mississippi mom affected by the FDA’s decision (check out the YouTube link), a precursor of life in the Age of Obama if ObamaCare is not repealed by Congress or the courts.
First federal officials decided on Dec. 16 that they would revoke approval of Avastin, the blockbuster drug, to treat advanced breast cancer. Then, before the drug maker could even appeal the ruling, some insurance companies seized the chance to deny coverage.
So much for the promise that bureaucrats would never come between patients and their doctors.
Perhaps the most visible of these patients is Christi Turnage, a 48-year-old Mississippi nurse and mother of three. Her doctors agree that Avastin has kept her metastatic breast cancer in check for more than two years, without the ravaging effects of chemotherapy. Nearly 10,000 Americans have signed her online petition in support of Avastin, and her son, Josh, produced a moving YouTube video appeal.
“The stress level in my household has been multiplied times 1,000,” Turnage said. “My boys are running around saying, ‘What are we going to do, what are you going to do, what can we do?'”
If drug maker Genentech‘s appeal to the Food and Drug Administration fails, and the FDA “de-lists” Avastin for breast cancer, her insurance company likely would stop coverage. Then she would have to stop treatment, because the Turnage family — like most — can’t afford the $8,000-a-month price tag for Avastin.
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- FDA De-Listing Of Avastin A Precursor To Life In The Age Of Obama
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