Friday, December 30, 2011
December 30, 2011 - More on Out-of-Reach Zevalin
"Carl, it is an oversimplification to say that oncologists don't refer patients for Bexxar or Zevalin because it isn't in their own personal arsenal. In fact, a fair amount of the treatment is done by the medical oncologists.
Every day medical oncologists take financial risks. We buy and administer expensive drugs, hoping that the insurance carriers will reimburse us enough to cover the costs. We are used to this.
But Bexxar and Zevalin are administered by nuclear medicine physicians, and they are NOT used to taking the financial risks. Furthermore, they don't know how to bill for such drugs, and they are afraid to try.
So no one in our 600,000 person service area offers the treatments. The medical oncologists are not licensed to dispense the drugs, and the people who are licensed are afraid to take the financial risks.
Thus, the medical oncologists are forced to look for alternatives."
Interesting perspective Vance has: that it tends to be the nuclear-medicine doctors who aren't up to speed on administering radio-immunotherapy agents like Bexxar and Zevalin, and are therefore more likely than oncologists to be at the root of the problems these effective medications have had in making their way into the marketplace. Vance knows a lot more about this than me, so I'm happy to say that I stand corrected.
I find it pretty shocking that his 600,000-person service area in Texas doesn't have a single qualified specialist who's stepped up to the plate to offer these treatments to patients who could use them.
Still, to me this points out, once again, the shortcomings of our free-market, entrepreneurial approach to healthcare funding, that puts doctors in the position of having to assume unacceptable financial risks in order to deliver proven, effective treatments to their patients. Those who are determined to keep the government out of healthcare funding are continually spouting the line that, left alone, the invisible hand of the market will eventually even everything out. This is a clear example of just how false such economic dogma is, when applied to cancer treatments.