Monday, December 27, 2010

Wear all the Pink You Want: It's Not Stopping Rationing of Breast Cancer Drugs

Commenters over at Stilton Jarlsberg's Hope n' Change Cartoons have been discussing who is going to be weeded out after they're done weeding out old people. Young kids with serious health problems or gays with expensive-to-treat HIV/AIDS? To which I might add: people with relatively rare and hard-to-diagnose health problems or people seriously injured in major auto accidents? And then there are those pesky women with late-stage breast cancer, who are already being denied medical treatment in the People's Republic of Oregon.

Perhaps the bean counters in the gov't bureaucrat-run socialist health care system (who are paid with our tax dollars!) will go after everybody with a costly medical problem to keep the electorate confused and fatigued so that we just get sick of fighting them and give up.

A little something that the government was up to while you were trimming your Christmas tree and doing your last-minute shopping was reversing its previous approval of the world's best-selling cancer drug for treatment of advanced breast cancer. This drug, Avastin, also is used to limit the growth of cancerous colon, brain, kidney, and lung tumors.

Many women with late-stage breast cancer who take Avastin live an additional three to five months, which the government does not consider "sufficient" benefit, even though taking the drug does improve quality of life for those women.

However, for reasons not yet understood, some women who take Avastin live much longer, even years longer. "It is clear that some breast cancer patients derive substantial benefit from Avastin," said Dr. Julie Gralow of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, who helped conduct the initial study of Avastin in breast cancer. "We don't know how to select those tumors or patients yet." 

Government solution: restrict access to this expensive drug for women on Medicare and Medicaid, even though Avastin is approved for treatment of late-stage breast cancer in Europe. "Patients with colorectal, lung, renal and brain cancers will still have access to Avastin through Medicare," but not patients with breast cancer.

In the eyes of this administration, women who are dying of breast cancer, especially those over the age of 65 or poor, are not worth the cost of treatment with the world's best-selling cancer drug. As Stilton Jarlsberg pointed out:
The alleged "cost savings" come from denial of expensive care to those who most need it, in order to fund more people being added to the government coffers. It's "inefficient" for lots of money to be spent on one person who is nearing death...which is why Obamacare levies fines (in the form of additional taxes) on people who have paid for "too much" health insurance with their own money.

And in determining what sort of medical treatment people will receive under Obamacare, consider some of the decisions that are already being made: the government is increasingly refuse to pay for medicines that will improve the quality of life, but not "cure" a condition. Which should terrify anyone with HIV...or cancer...or any geriatric illness.

Obamacare is not about medicine; it's about power and wealth redistribution. And part of shepherding the "wealth" is making sure the "unfit" won't share in it...even if they're the ones who earned it and contributed it (albeit not voluntarily) to the system.


  1. Do we have any elected officials with the courage to speak out against this government sanctioned murder? I have a chronic pain condition due to nerve damage which can't be fixed but is managed with medication so that I am able to get out of bed and care for my family. Will I get to look forward to being crippled and bedridden because my pain is currently being treated but the condition cannot be cured?

  2. @Zilla - They will be going after the old folks first, no doubt.

    But for the rest, We'll soon see.

    One HUGE problem is that Congress should be making these decisions through publicly debated legislation, but Congress abdicated that power, leaving it up to bureaucrats to make the decisions that Congress once controlled. Next, the Executive Branch sidestepped Congressional approval of presidential appointees by having so-called "czars" run the show.

    So far, the Republicans are not impressing me with either the desire nor the ability to stand up for the folks. And I have little faith that Democrats--even women--will do more than complain about Dem leadership. They seem to lack the ability to put two and two together.

  3. This really hits close to home for me as well. I am being treated for a terminal form of cancer. This cancer can not be cured, but the growth can be controlled in some cases such as mine. Will people with fatal diseases be cut off from treatment because there is no cure? I'm a single parent of three, 48 year old, and every month, every year, is precious to me.

    Three years ago I was given three weeks to live. So far I have exceeded that, but no one knows how long I have. Months? Years? With no treatment, probably weeks or months. Does some government bureaucrat have the right to overrule my doctor and deny me life-extending treatment? Does he want to face my children and parents and say that my life is not worth the extra expense? God help us all.

  4. @Lisa - As a family member of a cancer survivor who was told she had two weeks to live but went on to live 20 more years (and then died of a geriatric illness), I laud your courage and wish you long life.

    No one in this country should be permitted to stand between you and your unalienable liberty to pursue life and happiness for yourself, your children, and your parents.

    That's the message we need to get out to our fellow Americans, our media, and our elected--and appointed--officials.