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The "crippled and broken " US health care system comes through again (update)
Posted by: McQ on Friday, May 11, 2007

It is certainly not as "crippled and broken" as many would love to have you believe:
British cancer patients are substantially more likely to die of the disease than those in other western European countries because of poor access to the latest drugs, according to an authoritative report to be published today.

While more than half of patients in France, Spain, Germany and Italy have access to new treatments provided since 1985, the proportion in the UK is four out of 10.

[...]

The report into cancer treatment in 25 countries found the uptake of newer cancer drugs was "low and slow" in the UK as well as New Zealand, Poland, Czech Republic and South Africa.
The study found that cancer patient survival rates were "significantly related to the introduction of new oncology drugs."
Dr Nils Wilking, a clinical oncologist at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, said: "Our report highlights that in many countries new drugs are not reaching patients quickly enough and that this is having an adverse impact on patient survival. Where you live can determine whether you receive the best available treatment or not.

"To some extent this is determined by economic factors, but much of the variation between countries remains unexplained. In the US we have found that the survival of cancer patients is significantly related to the introduction of new oncology drugs."

The researchers, whose report is published in the journal Annals of Oncology, found that Austria, France, Switzerland and the US were leaders in using new cancer drugs.

The greatest differences in the uptake of drugs were noted for the new colorectal and lung cancer drugs.

The proportion of colorectal cancer patients with access to the drug Avastin was 10 times higher in the US than it was in Europe, with the UK having a lower uptake than the European average.
"10 times higher ...". Would you agree that's a significant advantage?

It is certainly another example of why our system, even with the level of government intrusion it now suffers, is still better than those in which government has total say.

UPDATE: Liberal Values is a bit ticked by CQ and QandO's handling of this information:
Ed Morrissey and McQ quote this article from The Telegraph which shows that cancer patients in the United States have earlier access to a specific drug. They twist this to suggest that this single parameter can be used to meaningfully compare the health care systems in the United States and Europe. I’m certain that there are many other parameters in which the United States beats Europe in such subspecialty care–but such subspecialty care has never been what the complaints about American health care have centered on.
Two points - first, if you're a cancer patient in the US, there's no "twisting" to this ... this is a very important 'single parameter' which demonstrates (and suggests) a superiority in this system vs. the European system (and if you don't believe that, look up stats on the numbers of new medicines coming out of Europe vs. the US).

Secondly, we're talking about system comparisons. You'd think an important part of any "system" would be it's ability to deliver the most advanced treatments to patients. When one system is able to deliver up to 10 times the access than another system, perhaps there's more to it than "subspecialty care".
 
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So if our healthcare is that good at treating cancer, I’m sure Cuba’s system does even better. At least, that’s what some of our commenters have told us.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Bullets cure cancer, Billy. Those who die of the former won’t die of the latter.
 
Written By: Steverino
URL: http://steverino.journalspace.com/
While more than half of patients in France, Spain, Germany and Italy have access to new treatments provided since 1985, the proportion in the UK is four out of 10.
Since 1985? 1985? Nearly half the cancer patients in the European countries mentioned and some 60% in England can just forget about treatments that are less than two decades old? Wow.

Wonder how long before it’s established that, even if the US taxpayer isn’t directly culpable for this, it’s nonetheless incumbent upon us to do something about it right away. After all, some people having 10X something that other people really really really need just isn’t fair. I have no doubt that our good shepherds in Washington stand ready do everything they can to see that our money gets thrown in the general direction of this terrible problem as soon as someone suggests it.
 
Written By: Linda Morgan
URL: http://
But with every life you save with cancer drugs aren’t you just making the human carbon footprint that much worse?? So see, keeping folks from live saving medication is good for the whole planet.

 
Written By: Rich Horton
URL: http://www.iconicmidwest.blogspot.com
It’s not just cancer, either. I have a ’rare and poorly-understood’ chronic nerve disorder. When I was first diagnosed with it, I did considerable investigation into what research was being done into it and what treatments were being developed, not just in the US but worldwide. The American articles and studies, with only a couple of exceptions, were in-depth and explored a variety of therapies and potential cures. The other (largely British) articles demonstrated no interest in trying to understand the causes or mechanisms of the condition. They declared it incurable and concentrated entirely on conventional painkillers and psychotherapy to help the afflicted endure the pain. They didn’t even have the standard treatment I underwent, which largely reversed the condition’s effects.

Purely anecdotal I know, but I’ve seen nothing before or since to alter that assessment.
 
Written By: Achillea
URL: http://
Conservatives are great at cherry picking facts and finding reasons why we cannot change for the better. Liberals are necessary to find ways to make necessary improvements.
Talk about twisting things around. (same links)

Scientists normally focus upon sub-sets - It’s a heck of a lot easier, more cost effective, and much more likely to produce worthy data. (If you are working with a large population, it is nearly impossible to isolate, even identify, all the variables, and consequently to set forth a viable working theory outside ones pre-existing biases.) Dr Nils Wilking, an oncologist, naturally will focus on his specialty for the purpose of his research. What Liberal Values conveniently ignores is that the results are not limited to a sub-set, rather the systemic problem of availability of drug treatment.

Dr Bengt Jonsson, the director of the Centre for Health Economics at the Stockholm School of Economics, a co-author on the study, said:
"It was the explicit objective at the establishment of Nice [National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence] to avoid any significant delays to bringing innovations to the market. There is no evidence that this objective is met… Countries need to address urgently how they are going to accommodate newer drugs into health care systems and pay for them."
Notice that Jonsson is not speaking specifically of cancer treatments, but drugs in general. And that means anti-depressant, high blood pressure, STD, and pattern-baldness treatments as well as a host of others. Seems that it is Ron Chusid “cherry-picking” to bolster his claim that we need to adopt more of the EU health care system while ignoring all of its problems.
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
I hope you’re feeling much better, Achillea, and that the future holds a cure for you.

And it’s interesting that part of what we criticize our system for is how *long* it takes for new treatments to get approved.
 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
A co-worker’s niece is a citizen of Canada. She was diagnosed as having a brain tumor and given 6 months to live. The best the Canadian national health program could come up with was treatment in 9 months. The family pooled their resources and sent her to the US for treatment. From friends with relatives in Europe, I have been told that in Europe many countries withhold some treatments, such as bypasses, under their national health insurance from those who are not contributing members of society; the elderly is one category. Germany does allow a private practice program as does Great Britain, so if you have money you are just fine. Canada BTW officially does not allow private practice, although it does exist and is basically ignored. It helps pick up the sack from the national health insurance. But I keep hearing in the media that the Canadian program is the model to emulate. It is a good thing that there is a medical refuge south of the Canadian border, but only Canadians are allowed to know this, apparently.
 
Written By: AMR
URL: http://
Starting with colon cancer, it would be more interesting to compare the number of people who have access to colonoscopies

Ah! Yes, nationalized medicine, proof they want to shove it up our ass
 
Written By: James E. Fish
URL: http://faroutfishfiles.blogspot.com/
In the often-recounted words of a Canadian judge:
"Access to a waiting list is not access to health care," wrote Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin for the 4-3 Court last week.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Bullets cure cancer, Billy.
A most astute observation.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
I think it’s extremely telling that those who wish to promote private healthcare need to cherry-pick specific medical issues to provide a favourable comparison with public healthcare. It’s not about what’s available to the individuals who can pay - it’s about what’s available to all, and the overall per capita health-maintenance achieved by the different systems. The plethora of cancer drugs buyable (not available, since they are not available at all to those who cannot afford them) in the US is simply a result of the fact that patients are free to buy any drug they like as long as it is FDA approved. In the UK patients receiving public healthcare do not have access to all drugs because the public purse simply won’t stretch to it - the NHS’s money has to be used where it is most effective, and in many cases a particular drug may be deemed to deliver insufficient benefit to justify the drug company’s terms. In the US, these people wouldn’t be getting the drug anyway because they couldn’t afford it.

As for Cuba, who has the better chance of getting cancer treatment - a poor Cuban, or an American with no money and no insurance ?
 
Written By: Blewyn
URL: http://blewog.blogspot.com
I think it’s extremely telling that those who wish to promote private healthcare need to cherry-pick specific medical issues to provide a favourable comparison with public healthcare.
And I think it is telling that this seems to be the default position for those who can’t or won’t address the more serious underlying problems such examples point to in "public healthcare".
As for Cuba, who has the better chance of getting cancer treatment - a poor Cuban, or an American with no money and no insurance ?
All the American has to do is walk into an emergency room and by law they get care regardless of insurance or money. That’s the same thing a Cuban does. As to the level of care, I’d suggest the American has a much better chance of access to the most advanced treatments than does a Cuban.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
And I think it is telling that this seems to be the default position for those who can’t or won’t address the more serious underlying problems such examples point to in "public healthcare".
I believe I did point out that the only people who cannot get the drugs (that the NHS does not provide free) in both countries are those who cannot afford them.
All the American has to do is walk into an emergency room and by law they get care regardless of insurance or money.
But they get billed, right ?
 
Written By: Blewyn
URL: http://blewog.blogspot.com
But they get billed, right ?
Those that have the means, yes. Those that don’t, no.

Treatment via emergency room is guaranteed by law regardless of insurance or monetary status.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog

 
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