FDA to breast cancer patients: Shut up and die
Agency wants to restrict Avastin and block its donation to the dying
By Terrence D. Kalley
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
At the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) these days, the little ladies are to be seen and barely heard. As if “Mad Men” were a documentary rather than a televised slice of 1960s life, a major medical decision looms and the women it affects most directly will be given only a superficial moment to share their substantive views. What do a bunch of gals have to tell the federal government, anyway?
Well, a lot, it turns out.
Each year, about 40,000 women die from metastatic breast cancer (MBC). About 17,500 women with breast cancer are prescribed a drug called Avastin. While it does not reverse MBC, Avastin slows it and in some cases freezes it in place. The result? Women who are expected to die of breast cancer are extending their lives by anywhere from a few months to several years.
My wife is a so-called superresponder who thanks Avastin for the extra two years of life – and counting – that we are enjoying together.