Tag Archives: breast cancer

No Such Thing as an Average Cancer Patient

My colleague Greg Conko has an excellent piece in today’s Wall Street Journal. Greg doesn’t think it’s right that the FDA is denying terminally ill patients access to potentially life-saving treatments.

The latest case in point is a drug called Avastin. It is approved for treating several types of cancer. But the FDA is moving to revoke its approval for treating breast cancer. This has, understandably, upset many breast cancer patients and their doctors.

The heart of the matter is who shall be in charge of treatment decisions. Should it be patients and doctors? Or should the FDA decide for them?

Greg thinks a decentralized approach is better. Different patients will react to the same drug in different ways. A doctor can see if Avastin works or not for a patient, and they can make the right decision from there. The FDA relies on averages and medians for making its approval decisions, ignoring individuals. The trouble with that is, as Greg points out, there is no such thing as an average cancer patient.

A few weeks ago, I interviewed Greg about Avastin and the FDA here.


CEI Podcast for May 31, 2011: FDA Rescinds Approval of Breast Cancer Drug


Have a listen here.

Senior Fellow Greg Conko breaks down the fight over Avastin, a drug used to treat several types of cancer. The FDA is poised to rescind Avastin’s approval for treating breast cancer. It will retain its approval for other cancers. This will make life difficult, and possibly shorter, for some breast cancer patients. Conko believes this battle boils down to one question: who decides which treatments patients can use? Will it be the FDA, or doctors and patients?

Regulation of the Day 140: Plastic

“Plastics are the future,” a pushy relative told a young Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate. Was he giving career advice — or a warning? After all, some environmental activists think that plastics are responsible for diseases ranging from attention deficit disorder to cancer.

The specific culprit of mankind’s impending doom is Bisphenol A. Called BPA for short, it is a chemical added to plastics to make them harder. BPA is a very common chemical. It’s in everything from laptop computers to CDs to pens.

Activists say that BPA “disrupts hormones and alters genes, programming a fetus or child for breast or prostate cancer, premature female puberty, attention deficit disorders and other reproductive or neurological disorders.”

They are calling for bans and other regulations to limit peoples’ BPA exposure.

Scary stuff. But there is a problem with this bed-wetting level of hysteria; there hasn’t exactly been a rash of death and disease attributable to BPA. In fact, breast cancer rates have actually been declining by 2 percent per year since 1999. The FDA notes that “current levels of exposure to BPA through food packaging do not pose an immediate health risk.”

Still, people do scare easily. The very word “chemical” sends chills down the spines of otherwise rational people. Activists can take advantage of these hot buttons to draw attention to their issues and increase their budgets. Scaring people is good for business.

There are ways to fight back. One is by reading my CEI colleague Angela Logomasini’s excellent work debunking the BPA scare. Another is to join a new Facebook group called “Hands Off My Plastic Stuff!!