Health Care

Commentary: Sen. David Vitter Tackles FDA Over Regulation of Breast Cancer Drug

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The recent judicial decision affirming Virginia’s meritorious lawsuit against Obamacare has highlighted one of the profound flaws of the administration’s health care plan. But a recent news story regarding Louisiana Senator David Vitter has been relatively under-reported, which is a shame, because it also illustrates the hazards of an overreaching bureaucracy. Senator Vitter has been campaigning against an FDA advisory panel’s recent recommendation to take Avastin off-label as a breast cancer-treatment drug.

Typically, when the FDA recommends to revoke the license of a drug for distribution, such a decision is founded on concrete evidence of dangerous or adverse side effects to the user. In the case of Avastin, however, this decision was rendered on less compelling grounds. Avastin, when taken in conjunction with chemotherapy, has been shown in studies to slow the growth of cancer by up to 5.5 months in women with metastatic (Stage IV) breast cancer. Although a study cited by the FDA panel indicates that Avastin is not consistently effective and may lead to side effects, this is no different than many other approved drugs on the market.

This is tantamount to taking options off of the table for women battling breast cancer and their families. If a drug is safe, then the consumers (the patients) should be the ones to decide whether or not to purchase it. In accordance with the FDA’s initial decision, however, women who want to continue to use Avastin will have a significantly harder time procuring the drug at affordable rates if it is moved to off-label.

This decision comes on the heels of another FDA panel recommendation to limit the amount of mammograms and Pap smears taken by women, which Vitter contested in a bipartisan effort with Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md). Vitter’s advocacy for consumer choice in the health care market is heartening to Americans contesting the intrusion of government agencies into our lives.

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