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The Avastin Travesty

A cancer-fighting drug vs. an out-of-control federal agency.

by
Thomas Bowden

Bio

December 12, 2010 - 12:00 am
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The FDA’s experts take professional pride in refusing to allow such individual considerations to influence their decisions. Instead, they float among the statistical clouds, observing that Avastin delays tumor growth by only 3 to 12 weeks on average and that some patients actually get worse after taking the drug. From behind a veneer of scientific respectability supplied by charts and graphs that ignore the individual patient, these experts then ask a question to which no rational answer can be given: What is the meaning to society of one month in an individual’s life?

At this point, you may be sympathetic to these women’s plight and yet also concerned about the national economy. Won’t cancer patients spend us into bankruptcy with expensive drugs like Avastin? Well, that’s the kind of question that arises only when health care is collectivized by such programs as Medicare, Medicaid, and ObamaCare.

The antidote is to challenge the notion that health care is a right, to be funded by shoving everyone’s wealth into one big pot and spreading it among those in need. On a free market, in which health care is purchased by a combination of private insurance, savings, and charity, your neighbor’s decision to take an expensive drug like Avastin will be no more concern of yours than his choice to wear an expensive watch or drink an expensive wine.

This ongoing Avastin travesty pits a cancer-fighting drug against a drug-fighting cancer — an out-of-control federal agency whose mission unashamedly includes choking off patients’ access to vital drugs. Reform should start by targeting the FDA’s power to substitute collectivized decisions for individual choice.

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Mr. Bowden is an analyst at the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights.
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