What rationing? FDA may may pull approval for cancer drug over cost concerns 

The Washington Post reports that the FDA is considering revoking approval for Avastin, a late-stage breast cancer drug, largely because they’re worried about over cost concerns:

Federal regulators are considering taking the highly unusual step of rescinding approval of a drug that patients with advanced breast cancer turn to as a last-ditch hope.

The debate over Avastin, prescribed to about 17,500 women with breast cancer a year, has become entangled in the politically explosive struggle over medical spending and effectiveness that flared during the battle over health-care reform: How should the government balance protecting patients and controlling costs without restricting access to cutting-edge, and often costly, treatments?

The Food and Drug Administration is reviewing the recommendation of influential scientific advisers to revoke authorization of the drug to treat metastatic breast cancer. Contrary to initial research, new studies indicate that the benefits of the drug, which costs $8,000 a month, do not outweigh its risks, the advisory panel concluded.

Now the FDA’s decision regarding Avastin is not directly related to Obamacare, but it does highlight an important aspect of the health care debate: Rationing is a very real concern when the government gets involved in paying for health care. Despite this, advocates of more government control in health care insisted that rationing was a totally unfounded concern when discussing health care reform. Perhaps the media will understandably avoid hyperbolic rhetoric such as “death panels,” but government can only be expected to make more life-or-death decisions based on cost as they’re given more control over health care. It’s Avastin today, what expensive drug or treatment will the FDA be concerned about tomorrow?

For more on the problems of rationing medical care, be sure and read today's Examiner editorial, "Obama's Medicare czar faces life-and-death decisions."

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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