Lisa speaks out about the Avastin decision

This entry was written by Lisa Marsella, an LBBC volunteer living with metastatic breast cancer. Lisa gives us her view on the decision that the FDA made yesterday about Avastin.

Yesterday the FDA made a recommendation to revoke the approval on a drug called Avastin. Avastin is a drug that was designed to suppress tumor growth and is often used in combination with other chemotherapy drugs as a course of treatment for women diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer.  I was given Avastin in combination with other chemotherapy drugs when my breast cancer returned after a nine-year remission. Avastin has been beneficial to me, and so many others just like me. It has been 18 months and I am doing rather well because of Avastin.

The FDA concluded that four studies indicate that Avastin does not help women diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer live longer or provide other benefits that outweigh its potentially life-threatening risks. Taking away the FDA approval on Avastin as a treatment for advanced breast cancer would probably prompt insurers to stop paying for Avastin. Of course, Avastin has risks — don’t all drugs? Even taking an aspirin presents a risk. The gold standard against which all oncology drugs are judged is whether the drug enables you to live longer, and Avastin has delivered for me. Why then would a drug that has proven to be effective for me be rationed? Because of the expense?

Our federal government is surely over stepping boundaries when placing a value on citizen’s lives.  I encourage everyone to appeal to our lawmakers to intercede.  This decision can mean life or death for breast cancer women like myself. We must unite and be heard; breast cancer is not going away; why should Avastin?

How do you feel about FDA’s decision on Avastin? If you would like to write a blog entry, please contact stacia@lbbc.org. For more information on the decision and a statement from LBBC, visit lbbc.org.

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