RUSH: Here’s Kevin in Columbia, Missouri. Kevin was on the phone yesterday. We didn’t have time to get to him. We were discussing Avastin, the drug from Roche that is an excellent fighter of breast cancer and a number of other cancers that costs wholesale $7700 a month. The FDA is planning to maybe ban it because it’s too expensive, and it was ironic. I was pointing it out that everybody is getting mad at drug companies or whatever — health care, insurance companies — for not covering certain things, and yet here’s our precious Obama administration planning to get rid of a drug that does help the people who are able to use it. So Kevin here wanted to tell us why, in part, Avastin is so expensive. Hi, Kevin. I’m glad you called back.
CALLER: Hey, Rush. Dittos from Missouri. It’s a delight to talk to you today.
RUSH: Thank you very much.
CALLER: Yeah. I don’t claim to be any expert on Avastin but I know what my dad’s gone through. He’s been on it for over a year and a half.
RUSH: What kind of cancer does your dad have?
CALLER: He had a brain tumor, a glioblastoma, and it a stage four.
CALLER: Which don’t give you a lot of options. And he initially tried regular, classic chemotherapy, and it just messed up his system entirely, and he was pretty much left with nothing. He had a recurrence of it, and it was removed twice, and he was finally, when he had nowhere else to go, introduced to Avastin. He’s been on it ever since, for about a year and a half.
RUSH: What’s it cost you guys? Can you tell? Would you mind telling us?
CALLER: Yeah, that’s fine. For a month’s dosage it runs between 20,000 and $30,000.
RUSH: Twenty to $30,000 a month.
RUSH: Now, insurance doesn’t cover this, right?
CALLER: Yes, it actually does.
RUSH: Your insurance does cover this?
CALLER: Yes. He had to have a lot of help from his doctor to get them to agree to cover it because it hadn’t been approved at the time he needed it, and it was in February of last year, and then Avastin was approved for his type in May of last year. So…
RUSH: That’s right. Now I remember. It was covered by insurance and now the FDA action will take that option away because if the drug is not approved, then most insurance will not cover a non-approved drug.
RUSH: Obamacare doesn’t want to cover it. The ‘death panels,’ in other words.
RUSH: So Obamacare doesn’t want to cover it. The government told us, ‘Your health care? We’re going to take care of your health care.’ That’s all they said. So why is it 20 to 30 thousand dollars? People can’t envision that, 20, $30,000 a month for a drug.
CALLER: Right. Yeah, like you said yesterday and today, the wholesale cost is really high, for whatever reason they determine. I don’t know why it would be that. But a lot of the cost is because of the way it’s administered. It’s not an over-the-counter like the traditional chemotherapy. He has to go in and take an afternoon. The very first thing he has to do is take a blood test. He has to be in a sterile environment. You have to wait for the blood test to come back and then they have to specifically mix the Avastin components to match his current blood chemistry, and then he has to sit in a room with an IV for over an hour. So the number of personnel involved is enormous just to administer this drug.
RUSH: And the dosage changes, obviously, or the makeup of the dosage changes —
RUSH: — every time you have it administered?
CALLER: The makeup is different every time. I mean, it’s completely different. Because it does have its own risk — you know, just like every other chemotherapy — and they watch those, and sometimes he hasn’t been able to do it because of either blood problems or anything like that. But he was diagnosed two-and-a-half-years ago, to put it in perspective, with a cancer that is supposed to take your life in 12 months. Yes, it costs a lot of money. But, you know, the alternative is obviously not better.
RUSH: Just going on what you said here, your father’s had a year and a half beyond the normal life expectancy because of the drug?
CALLER: Yeah. About half of the people don’t make it to 12 months. Making it to three years, it gets down below 10%.
RUSH: With the drug or without?
CALLER: Without this drug.
RUSH: Without the drug.
CALLER: Regular chemotherapy and, you know, good resection and all of that, you get about 50% will make two years.
RUSH: Now, what kind of condition’s your dad in?
CALLER: Well, he’s working fine. I mean, he’s back at his job. No disability because of the operations. I mean he had to —
RUSH: He’s BACK AT HIS JOB with stage four brain cancer?
CALLER: Correct, yeah. You know, he’s a strong guy anyway.
RUSH: And the Obama administration doesn’t want to cover this drug, but the evil insurance companies, as you are a testament to, will?
CALLER: Yes, in that case they did. And, you know, a lot of it, to be honest, is mitigating circumstances. There were really no other alternatives with what he had, because his body couldn’t handle the typical chemotherapy. So, it’s a lot of money, but I see it as if you don’t have the option what are you supposed to do?
RUSH: Well, how much are you paying? Where does your policy come from? From your dad’s job?
CALLER: Actually from my mother’s job.
RUSH: Your mother’s job.
CALLER: Yeah. It’s severely discounted after a while. You know, the list price in the insurance claim is really high, but it’s discounted quite a bit by the time it comes back to money.
RUSH: What kind of a co-pay do you guys have or deductible?
CALLER: I’m not sure what he has. I don’t think he’s told me. I try not to ask him those kinds of questions.
CALLER: But like I said, if you’re left with no options and you’re not able to use it only because some bureaucratic position says you can’t have it?
RUSH: That’s exactly right. Kevin, thanks very much. Columbia, Missouri. Why should the government be the ones to make this call? Why should the Obama administration, why should the Department of Health and Human Services, why should Kathleen Sebelius, why should those people be able to make the call as to whether or not this drug is made available to Americans? Why shouldn’t some women be able to sign up for a health plan that covers Avastin? Because it’s used for breast cancer. It’s having the same kind of demonstrable positive impact on breast cancer as it is on brain cancer. Whose choice is it here? It’s clear. The story yesterday was the FDA is going to ban this because it’s too expensive. The theory is, ‘Well, not everybody can have it, so nobody should have it.’ It’s what we were talking about yesterday with a ‘peasant society,’ a peasant culture.
Now, they’re running around scaring everybody into thinking Republicans are gonna take away your Social Security, and here they are actively close to removing a drug from the market by disapproving it, simply because of its cost. We thought the Democrats were all for choice but apparently choice only matters when it comes to abortion, and if that happens to be your choice. I spent some time looking at this last night. Avastin averages out to cost $8,000 a month, to the patient / insurance company. That’s what it averages out to by the time it’s done. You know, we’re hearing 20, $30,000 as a top-drawer retail price before any of the applied discounts, matching funds, all that stuff happened. So Social Security? ‘Right there it is, even in the Republican Pledge! Why, the Democrats are saying Republicans are gonna take away your Social Security!’ In the meantime, the Obama regime is taking away your health care, or wants to.
RUSH: Riverton Utah, this is Dave, welcome to the EIB Network. It’s great to have you here, sir.
CALLER: Yeah, I was calling about Avastin.
CALLER: If they ban Avastin due to whatever ‘greed’ issues they’ve got, they’re not only hurting cancer patients, they’re hurting people with macular degeneration.
RUSH: One thing. They’re only talking… I’ve gotta be very honest about this now. I don’t want to be misrepresented. Right now the FDA is only thinking of banning it for breast cancer use, not for brain cancer and some of the others, but only for breast cancer use partially because of the expense. Macular degeneration, that sounds like a very expensive drug to use for macular degeneration.
CALLER: No, it’s only $275 an injection.
RUSH: Same drug? Avastin?
CALLER: Same drug. Avastin. I think cancer they have to use massive dosages. To treat macular degeneration, they just use a single syringe.
RUSH: Yeah, that might be. I don’t know anything about it other than what you’re previous caller said and that is that administering the drug is an expensive thing: Blood tests, blood chemistry has to be right, four or five people every time you administer it, IV for brain cancer, other cancer usages. It’s obviously not that complicated for macular degeneration. Where do they inject you for macular degeneration?
CALLER: Right in the eyeball.
CALLER: Needle in the eye.
RUSH: Right in the eyeball.
CALLER: It’s pretty exciting.
RUSH: You have no choice but than to have to watch that.
CALLER: Yeah. You see the bubbles in your eyeball and everything.
RUSH: Very cool.
CALLER: Yeah. So every time I hear anything bad about Avastin or, you know, how expensive it is, that stuff’s a miracle drug.
RUSH: Well, I’ve not heard a thing about it being banned for anything other than breast cancer, and it hasn’t been banned even for that yet.
CALLER: Oh, that’s good to hear.
RUSH: They’re just think about it. The FDA is just think about it, and that’s based on cost.