US breast cancer drug decision ‘marks start of death panels’
America’s health watchdog is considering revoking its approval of the drug Avastin for use on women with advanced breast cancer, leading to accusations that it will mark the start of ‘death panel’ drug rationing.
By Nick Allen, in Los Angeles and Andrew Hough
Published: 10:07PM BST 16 Aug 2010
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Avastin, the world’s best selling cancer drug, is primarily used to treat colon cancer and was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2008 for use on women with breast cancer that has spread.
It costs $8,000 (£5,000) a month and is given to about 17,500 women in the US a year. The drug was initially approved after a study found that, by preventing blood flow to tumours, it extended the amount of time until the disease worsened by more than five months. However, two new studies have shown that the drug may not even extend life by an extra month.
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Every one sneered at Sarah for “death panels”. However it appears she was right. It’s one thing if a patient decides to forego the drug. Even if it’s just that they don’t have the money. But, when politicians and bureaucrats make decisions based on money, it doubtful that this is in our best interests.
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