You may have heard of Avastin.
Last month, an FDA advisory board recommended withdrawing government approval of Avastin as a treatment for advanced breast cancer. The decision betrays a bias that puts costs above treatment, and unless the FDA leadership overrules its own experts, the 40,000 women killed by breast cancer each year will be denied an important clinical option.
From a series of links provided by Instapundit.....
Here's Ann Althouse, quoting the Wall Street Journal:
So here we have government-anointed medical patriarchs substituting their own subjective view of Avastin's risks and costs for the value that doctors and patients recognize. If Avastin is rescinded, thousands of dying women will lose more than proverbial false hope in the time they have left. They will lose a genuinely useful medicine.
And here's Ms. Althouse:
There are death panels. They don't want to be seen as death panels, because to be seen as death panels will undermine their relentless, bureaucratic work. So see them.
Who are they? Nobody really knows, do they? They meet in their little rooms, cast their little votes, and then hand down their verdicts predicated on the idea that they know more than your doctor. Here's Instapundit one last time, on the subject of "naming names":
And name names, which, as I’ve noted before, undercuts the diffusion of responsibility that bureaucrats prefer. In this case, some names are Wyndham Wilson, the chair of the committee, and Richard Pazdur, the FDA’s cancer chief. Also committee members Natalie Compagni Portis, and Jean Grem, both quoted here.
Here's the difficulty, IMAO..... The government has set up an elaborate series of hurdles that any pharmaceutical company must jump before a new drug is approved for sale in the U.S. I've read estimates claiming a regulatory cost of one billion dollars per medicine. Here's one estimate that puts it at 800 million. Much of this cost is overkill.
Combine this with the elaborate series of hurdles known as Medicare and Medicaid, and you have the perfect storm. Your health is now in the hands of dueling bureaucracies. One bureaucracy is charged with ensuring that you are 100% safe, regardless of the cost. The other is charged with ladling out treatment in an approved, inexpensive manner. Which side is gonna win?
Back to Avastin. For the love of God, it is a freakin' cancer medication. And if you have cancer and your doctor doesn't find a treatment, you are going to die.
Would it lower the morale of our Bureaucratic Lords And Masters if they simply said "Look, you folks are free to try this medicine. Hell, you're dying. The pharmaceutical companies are free to manufacture this medication for the lowest cost possible. Consider yourselves part of the research. The medicine can now be produced at a much lower price, as long as it has a red stamp on the lid that says UNREGULATED."
Now, transfer that thinking to all pharmaceutical products. Transfer that thinking to restaurants, stepladders, florists, beauty salons, and funeral homes.
If you trust a cabal of bureaucratic hacks more than you trust your doctor, your neighbors, or word of mouth, then you should be free to pay more for the regulated products.
If not, you should be free to make your own choices.