Jonathan Kay: Kimm Fletcher’s death was tragic. But Ontario was correct not to pay for her Avastin

National Post | Full Comment

A decade ago, the FDA approved an exciting new intravenous drug that fights the spread of cancer by slowing the growth of new blood vessels. Since 2004, Bevacizumab — which is produced by Genentech under the trade name Avastin — has become one of the world’s most commonly used anti-cancer drugs, despite the fact that the annual per-patient cost of the drug is about $100,000.

Unfortunately, Avastin is not the wonder drug that many hoped it would be: It inhibits the growth of only certain types of cancers. And even in those types, the effects are modest. In ovarian cancer patients, for instance, a study of 600 patients conducted by U.S. researchers found that “the drug was associated with 3.8 months of additional survival.” In regards to the allocation of life-saving medical resources, this is a troubling result, because the same researchers found that chemotherapy supplemented by Avastin costs about…

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