What would you do if a drug that was prolonging your life were in danger of being pulled off the market?Women with breast cancer are at risk of losing such a drug, called Avastin. I heard about this because Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Adam Russell has a sister who is receiving this drug. Adam is reaching out to social networks to spread the word about this and try to keep this drug on the market.
I am shocked after reading the information on this page. (Screen reader users, navigate by tables to find the body of the page.)
From what I can tell by reading this, Avastin is used to treat other forms of cancer and has good results. Why the FDA wants to pull it for breast cancer is beyond me. The page says the drug basically starves the tumors by cutting off blood supplies.
There is a hearing scheduled and the outcome could be dire. Insurance companies would pull out, forcing these women to pay for the medication out of pocket.
Before blogging about this, I wanted to familiarize myself with it, because if a drug is being pulled, there must be a safety issue, right? One would think. From what I can tell, there are other drugs on the market with even worse side effects and the committee might not even be medically qualified to make such a decision. It seems to me like these women should have the choice to stay on this drug that for many, is prolonging their lives. Please take a moment to read the page linked above.
It is heart wrenching to watch a loved one have to stop a treatment that is working. My mom had to stop a chemotherapy that was shrinking her tumors because before she had a port, she received the drug intravenously. During a treatment, her vein was infiltrated during phlebotomy and she suffered chemical burns in her arm and hand. As a result, she could no longer receive the drug that was shrinking her tumors.
I hope Avastin is allowed to stay for breast cancer patients, especially since other forms of cancer are being treated with it. Maybe there’s more to this than we are being made aware of, but if so, the information should be presented to the women who are taking the drug. Let them decide about their own futures.
Here is a petition to sign if you agree and want to help. Thousands of voices are deafening. Please help to spread the word. Let’s make that wheel squeak.
(Screen reader users, the petition is located in a table, but the text fields are not labeled. I asked the Freedom of Access to Medicines Twitter account about this and since they are a new non-profit, they haven’t been able to address the accessibility issue yet. Maybe we can help them in the future. If you figure out what text fields are what, let me know in comments so I can sign, thanks.)