The FDA is set to approve a new drug for treating an aggressive form of breast cancer (metastastic HER2) in women. Approximately 8,000 to 10,000 women die of this form of breast cancer every year. Breast Cancer Action, an advocacy group, is disappointed with the FDA. Studies of Tykerb, used in combination with the chemotherapy drug Xeloda, delays tumour growth for approximately two months. Clinical trials were stopped early because the drug was so promising; however, no definitive increase in survival rates has been found.
Generally, drugs are approved even if they do not show an improvement over existing drugs, so long as they are not worse than what is on the market. Drugs marketed at deadly diseases are given more leeway, both in terms of demonstrating survival and in side effects. (The theory is that vomiting as a result of taking an aspirin for a migraine is an unacceptable side effect, but is perfectly acceptable in order to save someone’s life.) The FDA has long been criticised for being too slow to approve drugs, despite the fact that it mitigates disasters such as with teratogen thalidomide.
CNN published a promotional piece for the Pill. It proports to debunk ten common myths about the Pill, such as increase in breast cancer rates and long-term effects of taking the hormones, but reads like an advertisment for the drug. It is a bit paternalistic to gloss over the negative effects of the Pill; after all, even manufacturers recognise the harm and make the Pill in lower doses to mitigate its side effects. Comments about the article from Helvidius readers are welcome.
The imams who were removed from a United Air flight a few months ago have sued the airline. United’s actions were wise: they reacted to strange behaviour (requests for seatbelt extensions, splitting up to sit at plane exits) and decided to not risk another 9/11. While it is upsetting to see an abuse of our justice system, there is a silver lining: discovery motions and depositions may force the passengers to disclose information about their plans or their motivations.
A LA judge ordered the rights to OJ Simpson’s book to be auctioned, and the profits to be used to satisfy the civil judgment against him.