WASHINGTON – Dallas’ top Democratic donors will cut big checks to share dinner later this month with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Most will be motivated by a desire to protect the party’s congressional majority.The stage is set--helpless cancer patient vs. mean corporation. Read on...
Lisa Blue will have an extra reason: to say thanks for Pelosi’s efforts when her husband, Fred Baron, was dying of bone marrow cancer. His only option was an experimental drug whose manufacturer refused to give permission to use it for Baron’s condition.
Baron, the "King of Toxic Torts," built a fortune suing on behalf of asbestos victims....truly the noblest of noble professions, no?
A prolific Democratic fundraiser, he served as finance chief that year for his friend John Edwards, who also made his fortune in court. Baron later acknowledged funneling large sums to Edwards’ mistress – a scandal that gave ammunition to those who already despised trial lawyers.Supported human sleaze Edwards for office AND worked to cover up the Democrats' "extra-curricular" activities. Nice.
In 2002, Baron was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. By October 2008, his doctors at the Mayo Clinic were telling him he had just days to live.
They also offered a glimmer of hope. Over the years, the couple had donated about $1 million to Mayo. The staff was especially diligent, Blue said.
They tested an arsenal of drugs and finally discovered that Baron’s cancer responded surprisingly well, in the lab, to a drug called Tysabri.
Mayo had an ample supply, but the drug was – and still is – approved only for treatment of multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s disease. The manufacturer, Biogen Idec, refused to give permission, even under special "compassionate use" rules that protect a drug-maker from a black mark in case of an adverse outcome.
Biogen said it didn’t want to jeopardize the drug’s availability to other patients. ...
To hell with those "other patients" whose treatment might be jeopardized by giving the drug to Baron! The Dems clearly took sides on this one and stood with their rich and morally corrupt donor. I'm so glad these people are now calling the shots when it comes to our own health care."I started going through Fred's Rolodex," she said. "I called every politician, every celebrity that I knew and just begged them to help. ... I must have made 200 calls." ...
The younger Baron posted an open plea online to Biogen, noting that Bill Clinton, Sens. John Kerry and Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa and even the head of the Food and Drug Administration had urged the company to reconsider.
One apparently fought harder than all others:
So the Speaker of the House wielded the power of the Speaker's office to "cajole" the FDA to completely bypass the drug manufacturer and ordered the drug to be used to try and save her friend, regardless of how it might jeopardize the treatment of OTHER patients.
Others were supportive, she said, but Pelosi "put her heart and soul" into the cause, as did Harkin.
Somehow – Blue still isn't sure how – Pelosi cajoled the FDA to find a legal justification that let Mayo administer the drug, even without Biogen's consent.
"Nancy figured out a way," she said.
In the end, the drug extended Baron's life for a few days. The lesson Baron's wife takes away from the situation: Phew! I'm sure glad we can buy off politicians to get the Cadillac treatment!
Yes, sadly in the corrupt swamp of Washington, politics do matter and donations make the politicians' world go 'round.
Blue has no illusion that a typical family could pull such strings.
"There are so many cases like Fred's," she said. "One thing he taught me was politics matters. What a personal experience for me to understand how politics matters."