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National Health Care Can Kill

National Health Care Can Kill

Making Sense, by Michael Reagan

John Edwards and his rival for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton, may disagree on some things but they both support a universal health care system, their way of describing what is really socialized medicine.

Anybody who is fighting any disease, including cancer, would be smart not to vote for John Edwards. That includes his wife Elizabeth, because if she votes for her own husband and he establishes universal health care, her chance of survival will decrease by 20 percent.

This startling statistic is borne out in a blockbuster article in The Wall Street Journal by Dr. Scott Gottlieb. Dr. Gottlieb, a physician and resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, served recently in senior roles at the Food and Drug Administration and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Noting that more than 260,000 women will be diagnosed with some form of breast cancer this year, he explains that thanks to earlier detection and clinical research, survival rates have never been higher.

Writes Gottlieb: 'Between 1990 and 2002, deaths from breast cancer declined 2.3% annually. Today nearly 98% of women with early-stage breast cancer survive at least five years. Many will live long, full lives.'

He attributes these encouraging survival rates largely to new drugs, such as 'taxanes, a drug called Herceptin, and advanced hormone therapies such as the aromatase inhibitors. Other innovative therapies, including one that cuts off tumor blood supply called Anti-VEGF and more recently a targeted drug called Tykerb, have been approved.'

He reveals that in 2004, total U.S. cancer deaths were down by more than 3,000 after years of increases -- evidence of a turnaround.

In Europe, however, the statistics are grim compared to those here in the U.S., and the blame lies in the national health care systems of the kind John Edwards and Hillary Clinton want to impose on the American people.

Europe, he wrote,'should be sharing in the progress against cancer, but large bureaucracies have been erected to contain costs, by slowing the introduction of new drugs and restricting how doctors can use them.

'Unfortunately,' he wrote, 'some people want to import the European model here into the U.S. --'

That model has produced such results as the five-year survival for breast cancer caught early in England being just 78%, compared to 98% in the U.S.

'In Germany, a study found that 41% of German physicians were treating early breast cancer with taxanes, compared to 60% in America at the time. German breast cancer mortality decreased by 9% from 1990 to 1998, while mortality in the U.S. dropped more than twice as much.

'Overall, between 2004 and 2006 European deaths from breast cancer increased about 1.5% while the number of deaths from colorectal cancer increased 1.8%.

European drug regulators, Gottlieb wrote, do not allow new medicines to reach patients until government negotiators have negotiated what they deem to be a favorable price. As a result, cancer drugs are often available in the U.S. months if not years earlier.

For example, he recalls that in 2003, when 31 new drugs were launched worldwide, about 60% were available here months before Europe. 'Between 1995 and 2001 the 15 cancer drugs approved in Europe and the U.S. took 468 days to reach patients in Europe versus 273 days in America. Herceptin was tangled up in a 550-day approval process as the Europeans fought for a lower price, while the U.S. approved it in fewer than 120 days.'

Elizabeth Edwards should sit down and have a little talk with her husband and explain that if the health care system he favors were put in place it could jeopardize her prospects of a longtime survival.

Mike Reagan, the eldest son of the late President Ronald Reagan, is heard on more than 200 talk radio stations nationally as part of the Radio America Network. Look for Mike's newest book, 'Twice Adopted.'E-mail comments to Reagan@caglecartoons.com.

© 2007 Mike Reagan. If you're not a paying subscriber to our service, you must contact us to print or web post this column. Mike's column is distributed exclusively by: Cagle Cartoons, Inc. Sales email Sales@cagle.com, (805) 969-2829.



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