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Avastin, a popular cancer treatment drug may have its approval revoked by the FDA after studies have found that the drug may not extend patients lives beyond a month, according to The Daily Telegraph. This about face has provoked fears that the FDA is starting a death panel as insurance carriers will likely drop coverage for the costly medication.

The FDA advisory panel has now voted 12-1 to drop the endorsement for breast cancer treatment. The panel unusually cited “effectiveness” grounds for the decision. But it has been claimed that “cost effectiveness” was the real reason ahead of reforms in which the government will extend health insurance to the poorest.

The New York Times has stated that the original trial showed that tumor progression halted for five months, but in new trials that used a combination of different chemotherapy drugs the tumor progression halted for less than a month to three months.

Britain’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, a pace-setter in evaluating medical advances, issued draft guidance this month against using Avastin for advanced breast cancer patients in the National Health Service. It called the clinical trial data “disappointing” and the cost “too high for the limited and uncertain benefit it may offer patients.”

I don’t believe that this results in Palin death panel rationing as some publications would have you believe.

If a drug does not work as intended, the FDA is within their rights to deny approval for the drug. If someone wants to use a drug that is not approved, then can do so and pay out of their pocket. If someone want to spend $8000 a month on Avastin, then they have every right to do so. I hope this issue is not used as a political weapon by politicians on either side of the aisle in the US.

What do you think? Is the FDA starting a death panel to ration healthcare? Do you think healthcare reform will make the country worse or better off?

Post some comments or email me at I want to hear your opinion!