Texas Health Insurance– In late December, officials at the Food and Drug Administration announced a decision to revoke approval of Avastin for the treatment of late-stage breast cancer.
This move has shocked much of the medical community.
During his push for healthcare reform, President Obama repeatedly promised to protect personalized medicine — the government would not step in between doctors and patients. The FDA’s Avastin decision is a clear break from that promise. Texas Health Insurance Quotes
Most women dying from breast cancer are now going to lose access to this advanced biological medication. Even in the event their personal doctor determines that Avastin gives them the best chance of life and longevity, and other alternative cancer drugs have definitively proven to be less effective, Avastin won’t be an option. Texas Health Insurance
The President, his allies during the healthcare law campaign, and any other policymaker committed to maintaining patient freedom needs to fight to have the FDA Avastin decision reversed.
Avastin works by cutting off the blood supply that cancerous tumors need to grow. Clinical studies proved that for women with stage IV breast cancer, Avastin bought them more time — weeks or months in which the cancer wasn’t able to gain ground or spread. Texas Health Insurance Quotes
That’s why it had earned a key endorsement from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. This not-for-profit alliance of nearly two dozen of the world’s top cancer centers — including Stanford Comprehensive Cancer Center, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins — reviewed the studies on Avastin and affirmed its guidelines for using Avastin along with the chemotherapy agent Taxol to treat metastatic breast cancer.
Other prominent cancer groups – including the Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Ovarian Cancer National Alliance – also spoke out in support of Avastin as an option for breast cancer treatment.
So why is the FDA repealing the drug’s approval for this use? Agency officials argue that the drug doesn’t grant “enough” extra time for the average metastatic breast cancer patient to be worth it.
In response to the prospect of a withdrawal, scores of patients and their families launched heart-wrenching personal campaigns, begging the FDA to recognize that the extra weeks, months and in some cases even years Avastin may provide is absolutely “worth it” to them. Texas Health Insurance
These patients know that every day in which their cancer doesn’t progress means more opportunities to do the things that make their lives uniquely worthwhile: to celebrate one more birthday, to witness their children graduating from high school and college, to complete career projects that could revolutionize their fields, or simply to watch one more spectacular sunset holding the hands of those they love.
While research thus far hasn’t proven that, on average, Avastin prolongs life, it has provided clear evidence that the drug can slow the spread of cancer while improving quality of life. One study of patients taking Avastin with chemotherapy found that such treatment delayed tumor growth a median of about 11 months – five months longer than chemo alone. Another study reported more modest but still significant delays in tumor growth. Texas Health Insurance Quotes
And for scores of patients known as “super responders,” Avastin literally gives months or years of additional life.
Avastin was being prescribed to about 17,500 breast cancer patients each year.
Theoretically, now that the FDA is pulling approval of Avastin for breast cancer patients, doctors could continue to prescribe it “off label,” as it’sapproved to treat a number of other cancers. But for most patients, the gesture would be meaningless: government and private health insurance companies would likely stop covering it, and few patients could afford to pay for it themselves, as treatment costs about $8,000 a month. Texas Health Insurance
Nearly one in eight American women will develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetimes, and the disease claimed 40,000 lives last year. Metastatic breast cancer patients respond to Avastin in dramatically different ways. Some of those patients and their doctors insist it is their best hope for better days.
These patients are running out of options. And in December, the FDA took one of those options away.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed in large part because voters trusted the Obama administration when it promised to preserve the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship. Because of the FDA Avastin decision, for tens of thousands of breast cancer patients, that relationship is now in grave danger. Texas Health Insurance Quotes