Cancer Patients Fight Rationing [Reader Post]

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On June 28th in Rockville, Maryland, breast cancer patients and their families will protest a Food and Drug Administration hearing designed to deny patients access to the late-stage drug Avastin.

Organized by Terry Kalley, the husband of a breast cancer patient who is alive today because of the drug, patients will demand the FDA stop its effort to ration the drug. They deserve our support.

Last year, the FDA for the first time considered the cost of a drug in their approval process moving forward in an effort to “de-label” the drug. Such a move would allow patients access to the drug only if they could afford the hefty price tag. Women with breast cancer who rely on private insurance and Medicare would see the drug dropped from coverage. This is tantamount to a death sentence to thousands of women.

Kalley, a small businessman from Michigan, has taken on the fight in order to save his wife. He formed an organization called Freedom to Access to Medicines to fight for his wife and other patients.

Kalley is outraged by not only the FDA’s actions but the callous nature of the bureaucrats who seem to stop at nothing to “bend the health care cost curve down.” Kalley wrote “In an obvious move of desperation to appease an unhappy public, the agency announced yesterday that it will offer anyone with a stake in Avastin a chance to speak during the hearing – but only during a two-hour time block. Considering that 17,500 patients are taking the drug and tens of thousands of family members recognize its value, this hardly seems like enough time. Even if the FDA limits comments to patients, each woman would have less than half a second to tell her story. To paraphrase Helen Reddy‘s 1971 feminist anthem, “I am woman, hear me meow.”

Don’t be fooled by claims that this issue on Avastin is about drug safety. If it were about safety, the FDA would be moving to take the drug off the market. They are not. Kalley notes that “Medicare and private insurance companies often refuse to reimburse for off-label drugs. Because Avastin can cost between $56,000 and $96,000 annually, this is life-and-death stuff for many MBC sufferers. While wealthy patients will keep buying their Avastin, the FDA‘s message to those who can’t afford a country-club membership is “Drop dead.” This maddening position also is ironic, given the Obama administration’s putative commitment to fighting for the poor and middle class, rather than defending the rich.”

Do not allow the Obama Administration to start rationing drugs. Stand up with Kalley, his family and the thousands of breast cancer patients by friending them on Facebook or better yet, joining them in Maryland in late June. This is an issue of life and death. For more information, you can email Kalley at terry.fameds@gmail.com.

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Thank you very much for bringing awareness to our cause and highlighting FAMEDS efforts! Please sign & share our petition: http://fameds.org/petition.php

This looks like the death panels that Palin warned about!

Great article. I agree and am already on record here at FA with the rationing in Medicare that has begun under the Obama administration.

Thank you for this article, I had no idea.

Obama sat in his oval office to ponder
Thinking of some public credit to launder
When along came a thought and he said out loud
“I want to make healthcare mandatory for this crowd.
I don’t have the funds yet to pay for Avastin.
Cancer patents are just going to not end up lastin
I don’t want to seem like an arogant buffoon,
But my reelection is coming up soon.
And if I don’t have healthcare and wealfare for all,
Ill be exposed as a lying-liberal-loon-ball.
I’m the smartest man alive, how could they think
Underneath it all I might be a narcissist dink?
Let others die! That’s what I say
My reelection is as important tomorrow, just as it is today.
Don’t they understand, I am so great!
they’ve obviously not seen the economy as of late,
Or that I shot the evil Osama so bravely,
Why even look at my death panels so gravely?”