The broadcast networks are donating money and raising awareness about cancer. That is commendable. But since they are in the news business perhaps they could start by doing a feature story on Senator Charles Grassley’s shenanigans with the FDA which are literally killing cancer patients. The former head of the FDA’s Office of Oncology Products writes:
The senator is demanding a full-scale review of each and every product ever approved, and is asking for a rejudgment by GAO “to ensure that drugs approved on surrogate endpoints are both safe and effective.” You can bet these bully tactics will have an effect. Look for greater demands by the FDA for cancer programs to not use the accelerated approval pathway. . . The FDA ordered a change toward the much stricter endpoint of overall survival, adding years to the time it will take to evaluate the drug’s efficacy. U.S. cancer-drug development stands on a precipice overlooking a new dark age in which each new product’s development is longer and costlier than the last. Companies may decide it is not financially viable to even bother developing new drugs, and the pipeline for new products to treat cancer could slow even more. Mr. Grassley’s legacy could be thousands of additional cancer deaths.
In fact, there are lots of stories out there which would help current and future cancer patients. The networks could explain how frivolous litigation keeps life-saving drugs off the market. Or they can detail how excessive government regulation prevents patients from getting breakthrough cures. It is no secret that timid bureaucrats cowed by media firestorms and litigation are often a barrier to new and promising treatments.
So the next time a candidate opposes tort reform, we should expect the news networks to jump on the story and remind us that runaway litigation impairs health care, prevents or delays new drugs from coming to market, and sets back the war on cancer, right? And, of course, they should probe the record of the presidential candidates on litigation reform so we can see whether trial lawyers or the health of the American people carry more weight. Doing all these things–ferreting out stories that might make a real difference to cancer patients–would be the best service they could provide.