-By Warner Todd Huston
So you have Avastin, a drug used to treat breast cancer that has a record of extending the lives of sufferers for at least five and a half months, and it’s October, the month declared Breast Cancer Awareness Month. If you are the Obama Federal Drug Administration, what do you do? Apparently you look to delist the drug.
This October the FDA is trying to decide to delist Avastin because in keeping with its new Obamacare rationing impulses it has decided Avastin costs too much. In September the FDA announced that it was going to delay its final decision perhaps until December on whether or not to take Avastin off the market for breast cancer patients. There was no clear indication of just when the decision would be made, but conveniently the decision certainly will be delayed until after the coming elections. As a result President Obama won’t have to worry about taking a drug away from breast cancer patients in the midst of an election cycle.
The calculation of skipping past the elections is hard to ignore.
Senator David Vitter (R, LA) has pointed out the “rationing” aspect of the whole Avastin debate. In a letter to the FDA Senator Vitter said, “Taking Avastin off-label for breast cancer treatment is essentially government rationing.”
Avastin has many fans. One young man even made a video in support of Avastin saying that the drug has helped improve the life of his mother who has been diagnosed as stage 4 metastatic breast cancer.
Opponents of the drug say that its track record is not successful enough to justify the costs of the drug and the FDA has citied costs as being one of the reasons that Avastin is about to be delisted.
But in this month of breast cancer awareness month the specter of delisting looms for those that feel the drug works for them. The biggest question here is one of propriety. Is it a good idea that we give government the power to take away drugs that are successful for some people just because its costs too much? Should we give government the power to decide how much is too much to save lives?