Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Here's a change in health care laws that we'd all like to see Pelosi get behind

The Dallas Morning News has the story of how Nancy Pelosi pulled strings to get a top Democratic donor (the man who had helped pay for John Edwards' baby mama) access to an experimental cancer drug when his opportunity was blocked by the FDA. Sadly, the drug helped for only a few days, but he still died.

My complaint isn't that a powerful politician used her clout to help a donor. It is that such maneuvers are necessary for a dying man to get access to an experimental drug his doctor recommends because of government restrictions.
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.
It is just bizarre that a man, days away from death, would be denied the opportunity to take a chance on a drug that has been approved for other diseases. Sure it's a risk, but let him sign something and go ahead with the experiment instead of leaving this all up to FDA bureaucrats.

Why should this man's ability to try a drug be dependent on his former donations to prominent politicians? And what about the rest of us who can't get the Speaker of the House to intercede for us?

Now that's a change in health care laws Pelosi would do well to get behind.

8 comments:

RonWoods said...

I think the manufacturer and FDA were correct in denying the drug. Giving the drug to this patient - a few days before death - would be a waste of the drug. Surely, there are more appropriate patients.

In the big picture, just because the patient has the ability to pay for the medication, does not justify giving it to him.

This is similar to the mosque in NY. Everyone agrees they have the right to build it. The question is "Is it appropriate?". This man could afford the drug, but was it appropriate?

pumping-irony said...

I think you have hit on the whole point of this health care "reform" charade. Nancy Pelosi and the Kleptocrats aren't against new and/or expensive treatments, they just want to be the ones to control who can have them. Envision this: ten years from now, a terminally ill person goes to their government health services "allocator" and asks if they can try an expensive new drug that can save their life. The likely answer will be "No" because the taxpayers just can't afford to pay for expensive, ineffective treatments, you see (or, as President Panhandler said, "Take the pain pill" and go away.) Well, if that individual is a run-of-the-mill bitter clinger, that answer will be the end of it. But, if he or she knows Nancy Pelosi or some other elitist hack personally - maybe met them at one of those $30,000 a plate fundraisers - well, a couple of phone calls will bring "hope" as they used to say. After all, Nancy can't afford to have a big donor kick the bucket... they don't grow on trees, you know. And a promise of a big endowment to the Nancy Pelosi Foundation when the patient finally does kick the bucket will help grease the skids, too.

As Rush Limbaugh put so eloquently, it's all about POWER with these creeps.

kimsch said...

The manufacturers and the FDA are afraid that someone could get hurt. Manufacturers because of liability and the FDA because they want to guarantee safety for all which is of course impossible.

The way I look at is: If my chances of imminent death are n% and my chances with the drug could be n-x% then I'll try the drug. Sure the drug "could" kill me but the disease WILL kill me.

Rick Caird said...

It is not at all bizarre that Baron was denied access to the drug. It is the same bureaucratic reasoning that prevented foreign oil skimmers to operate in the gulf because they returned water that was less than 99.85% pure. It is far easier for a bureaucrat to say "no" than it is to say "yes" if "yes" is outside the well defined parameters. "No" is safe. "Yes" is risky. Until we extract a price from bureaucrats for not using common sense in a situation, "no" will always be safer.

Pat Patterson said...

Isn't something more elemental involved in this than how the drug was provided or if it worked under these circumstances? The question should be asked who didn't get the drug that might have benefitted by it?

tfhr said...

RonWoods,

You've got to be kidding - at least I hope so.

"Is it appropriate?" Well, the patient's doctors seemed to think so and so did the patient. Personally, I'd rather keep the decision chain in the process limited to that and leave the government out of it. You also seemed to think that the drug in question was in short supply. Not according to the article. Or did you even read it?

"Is it appropriate" that Nancy Pelosi has syringes full of botulism jammed into her head on a regular basis? Maybe, maybe not, but it sure does explain a lot.

Freeven said...

Giving the drug to this patient - a few days before death - would be a waste of the drug.

If the drug were in short supply and had to be rationed, this might make a little sense. That's not the case here.

In the big picture, just because the patient has the ability to pay for the medication, does not justify giving it to him.

Of course it does. This idea that you or the government should be able to dictate how people spend their own money is at the root of so much that is wrong in the world.

Skay said...

"If the drug were in short supply and had to be rationed, this might make a little sense. That's not the case here."

Rationing will come soon enough under Obama/Pelosi care--except not for Obama or Pelosi.They made sure of that.