One Less Option For Breast Cancer Treatment

Helen Whalen Cohen
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Posted: Dec 17, 2010 4:01 PM
Nanny state-ism has reached new, dangerous heights. For women with breast cancer, decisions about treatment have been taken out of their hands a little more, and placed under purview of the FDA.

The agency announced that it would no longer recommend that the drug Avastin be used to treat breast cancer, saying that it is too expensive, has potential bad side effects and isn't as effective as originally believed. Doctors will still be able to prescribe Avastin, but insurers are less likely to pay for it (much to the chagrin of patient advocacy groups). Welcome to the beginning of Obamacare, in which your medical choices will be influenced by bureaucratic decision making.

Conservatives are rightly outraged. Liberals will no doubt say that the response to Avastin is an overreaction, since it only slows the development of breast cancer for a few months. This isn't the point. A fourth-branch agency gets to decide to pull a drug because it wasn't going to be helpful enough to justify the cost. Are they really prepared to tell a woman that she cannot treat herself in this way because health care costs are going up, and there is no guarantee that the treatment would do her any good, anyway?

Those choices should be made by individual patients. Decisions about breast cancer treatment are personal, and shouldn't be up to me or you or the head of the FDA. They should be between a woman, her doctor and her family. Now, a federal agency gets to foreclose one option from on high because it wouldn't have been helpful enough. What's next?