American Elephants

Nancy Pelosi: “Now witness the power of this fully-armed and operational death panel.” by The Elephant's Child

If you are the Speaker of the House of Representatives (D-SF), all-powerful, really big cheese, who promised the “most ethical Congress in history,” and you learn that one of your really big donors is dying of bone marrow cancer, what do you do?

Fred Baron, the “King of Toxic Torts,” built a fortune by suing on behalf of asbestos victims.  A prolific Democrat fundraiser, he served as bagman for his friend John Edwards who also made a fortune with tort law. In 2002, Baron was diagnosed with multiple myeloma.  By October 2008,  his doctors at the Mayo Clinic were telling him that he had just days to live.  But they offered a slight glimmer of hope.

Over the years, the Barons had donated about $1 million to Mayo.  The staff was especially  diligent, said Lisa Blue, Baron’s wife.  They tested a complete arsenal of drugs.  Baron’s cancer responded in the lab, to a drug called Tysabri.

Mayo had a supply, but the drug was approved only for treatment of multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s disease.  Biogen, the manufacturer, refused to give permission, even under “compassionate use” rules that protect a drug-maker from a black mark in the case of an adverse reaction.

Blue worked Fred’s Rolodex calling every politician, and every celebrity pleading for help.  She hired a lawyer and prepared to sue Mayo.  She bought Tysabri online from Australia, intending to send her stepson to smuggle it into the country.  Bill Clinton, Senators Kerry and Ted Kennedy and Tom Harkin and even the head of the FDA had urged the company to reconsider.

But Speaker Nancy Pelosi “put her heart and soul” into the cause.  She “cajoled” the FDA to find a legal justification that let Mayo administer the drug, even without Biogen’s consent.

The drug beat back the cancer for a few days, but it wasn’t enough.  Baron died the week before election Day 2008 at the age of 61. As the Dallas News says:

Blue has no illusion that a typical family could pull such strings.

“There are so many cases like Fred’s” she said.  “One thing he taught me was politics matters.  What a personal experience for me to understand how politics matters.

And no, she added, “It’s not fair that other people can’t pick up the phone and make the government give them a drug. …It was just such an awakening about how the drug companies have so much power.

It is clear that ObamaCare will ration access to expensive new drugs.  The NHS has already banned Avastin for late-stage breast cancer patients, and is disallowing it for bowel cancer patients because it is too expensive.  There is already a drive here to have its FDA approval removed.  Drug companies are scared to death of — Tort lawyers — who drive up the cost of medicine and get away with it, because Democrat politicians refuse to rein them in.

Dallas’ biggest Democrat donors will sign big checks to have dinner later this month with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.  It’s nice to know that if you give big money to a Democrat they will pull strings to get you an illegal drug.  But most of us can’t afford to buy a politician.

(h/t: Moe Lane)

8 Comments so far
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For once, I agree that the tag “Democrat Corruption” is merited. But your title is misleading, at best (and that is being polite) because it suggests that Nanci Pelosi actually uttered the words between quotation marks. Got a source for that? If not, you should do the decent thing and remove the quotation marks.

I know people who are familiar with the U.S. and European medical systems. You say that European systems may not approve of certain high-priced drugs, and that is true. But generally they allow the use of new drugs a lot faster than does the FDA. And that was true before Obamacare.


Comment by Subsidy Eye

Subsidy, have you ever heard of the movie Star Wars? Normal people have.

Faster than the FDA, IF *they* decide that the cost benefit analysis is acceptable. If those European governments decide that the drug is too expensive to warrant the 40% chance that you will live, then you’re screwed.

Which is precisely why Americans don’t want government run healthcare. If your HMO denied you a treatment, you can pay cash, raise the money, do what you need to do. When government controls health care, you have no where else to go. You have no alternatives. When they say you die, you die.

There is a very simple reason why Americans pay more for healthcare than any European nation. Because WE CAN. We are free to pay as much as we want, and the government doesn’t stop us. It turns out that sick patients are willing to pay a lot more for their health care than healthy taxpayers.


Comment by American Elephant

American: (1) You didn’t corrorborate the “quote” from Nancy Pelosi; and (2) the systems are broadly similar for the rich and the poor. If you are poor in the United States, you are doubly screwed: you cannot afford expensive treatments, and chances are the FDA is sitting its thumbs wondering whether to approve a new drug, while tort lawyers hover in the wings. If you are rich in Europe or the United States, you will get the medicine you need (there is no stopping somebody who is rich in the UK getting an approved drug that is not covered by national insurance), but in the United States you might have to smuggle it in.


Comment by Subsidy Eye

(1)It’s a well known quote from Star Wars, the Return of the Jedi. Most people are familiar with it. And its also known as parody. Do try to lighten up.

(2)The systems are by no means similar. If you are poor in the US, most doctors will work something out, many will reduce the price or volunteer their services (and have a long record of doing so.) If you are poor in the US, you can borrow from friends and family, if you are poor with good credit you can go into debt, you can sell things, or you can get help from chari

(Not to mention the truly poor are ALREADY covered by Medicaid…ever heard of it?)

So I presume you are talking about those who arent poor enough to qualify for medicaid?

But I am by no means defending the FDA’s slow approval process. You’re preaching to the choir there. I think the FDA has no business preventing people from getting potentially life saving drugs, but if we keep Obamacare, the government keeping people from life saving treatment and drugs will be 1000 times more commonplace.


Comment by American Elephant

It’s a well known quote from Star Wars, the Return of the Jedi. Most people are familiar with it. And its also known as parody. Do try to lighten up.

Familiar maybe to technie nerds of a certain generation, but not to most other people. Appearing to attribute a statement to a person that that person never uttered is lying.


Comment by Subsidy Eye

No, it’s called parody. Ever watch the John Stewart Show? The Colbert Report? The Tonight Show? Saturday Night Live? They do it all the time.

I’m sorry you didn’t get the reference to the most popular franchise in cinematic history, but that does not make those of us who do, nerds, old, or liars. It just makes you ignorant and angry. Lighten up.


Comment by American Elephant

Ah, so this is a humour blog? I hadn’t noticed. When shows that appear on something called “Comedy Central” make silly statements, people know that it is a joke. There is nothing else in this blog entry that suggests it is farce.

I am perfectly capable of lightening up. Would you take it lightly if somebody started off a serious blog with a headline that said something like Sarah Palin: “My base is ignorant bigots”?


Comment by Subsidy Eye

Yes, we always try to have a sense of humor about things — indeed sometimes all you can do is laugh. And while I would frown upon their grammar, and think little of their comedic ability, yes, I would take it lightly if someone posted such an obviously phony quote. I would conclude that they were trying to get attention to make a larger point, and I might even read what they had to say. If the crux of the headline were not reflected in their point, then perhaps I might have a beef, but if their post illustrated that the headline did in fact have a grain of truth to it, then I would probably think it was a pretty good headline and not get my panties in a bunch.


Comment by American Elephant

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