Grace-Marie Turner

Unfortunately, the FDA's Avastin decision could be just the tip of the iceberg. The Obama administration is pursuing a government-centered model of medical care on multiple fronts. The new health law creates at least 159 new government boards and agencies that will sink roots into every aspect of the health sector. Some of these non-elected boards will have the power to cut costs and restrict choices for doctors and patients.

The new Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), for example, has the authority to cut Medicare reimbursement rates for doctors. Such cuts will drive physicians out of the Medicare program, and with fewer doctors available, there will be longer waits for care.

And the economic stimulus bill created a federal office to study the “comparative effectiveness” of new drugs and medical treatments. In other countries, such research has been used by government officials to deny patients access to advanced medicines.

The comparative effectiveness body in the Britain, for instance, has routinely denied public coverage for new medicines that are widely available throughout the rest of the Western world. The result has been lower quality of medical care for the British people.

Indeed, a study published in the Lancet medical journal found that only 69 percent of British women survive at least five years after being diagnosed with breast cancer, but 84 percent of American women survive at least that long.

Medical decisions need to be left up to patients and their doctors – not distant bureaucrats. The FDA needs to reverse its Avastin decision. Otherwise, patients are going to lose a vital treatment option and we'll all lose out on investment in tomorrow’s new, life-saving drugs.


Grace-Marie Turner

Grace-Marie Turner is president of the Galen Institute, a non-profit research organization in Alexandria, VA, that focuses on health reform.