From Volume 37, Issue 50 of EIR Online, Published Dec. 24, 2010

United States News Digest

Obama's FDA Moves To Disapprove Use of Cancer Drug

Dec. 18 (EIRNS)—In a move totally in line with the Obama Administration's commitment to Nazi health policy—in which only those considered to have lives "worthy to be lived" get health care, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took the first steps Dec. 16 toward revoking approval of the drug Avastin for use in women with advanced stages of breast cancer.

Avastin's manufacturer, Roche, has announced that it will appeal the decision within the allotted next 15 days. The drug bevacizumab, patented as Avastin by Genentech (owned by Roche, based in Switzerland), acts to deter angiogenesis, which is the body's formation of blood vessels serving cancerous masses. The idea is to kill off the tumor's blood support system. It is used against cancer in the colon, lung, kidney, and brain. In 2008, on a fast-track decision, the FDA gave Avastin its recommendation for breast cancer treatment as well. A reported 17,500 women are currently using the drug.

However, on July 20, the Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee, one of 49 specialty advice committees of the FDA, voted 12 to 1 to recommend that the FDA revoke its official "indication," that advanced breast cancer victims will benefit from bevacizumab. The Committee said, according to, that Avastin, "when added to standard chemotherapy, does not extend progression-free survival long enough to be clinically meaningful in HER-2 negative, metastatic breast cancer...."

What they mean by not "long enough," is that patients treated with this drug regimen—according to the studies to date—will live from 1 to 11 months longer than if they didn't get the treatment. So, 30 to 330 days of life is considered not clinically meaningful. The FDA decision will be used by the HMOs and Medicare/Medicaid to deny reimbursement for use of the drug. Costs run at approximately $8,000 a month—and clearly the Nazi accountants don't think a woman's life is worth it.

Purge the Ethics Committee, Says Rep. Butterfield

Dec. 16 (EIRNS)—There is tumult on the House Ethics Committee, as the staff director and chief counsel, who had fired the two chief investigators of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), himself resigned from his committee.

With that, Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) a former state Supreme Court judge, who had strongly defended New York Democrat Charles Rangel's right to an attorney for his appearance before the House, who had tried to stop the kangaroo court on Nov. 15, and who fought against censuring Rangel, called for "a complete reconstitution of the committee from top to bottom," Butterfield told The Hill, in order to restore confidence in the committee."

Lyndon LaRouche supported Butterfield's call for purging the committee "with enthusiasm."

Public Health Cuts Are an 'Emergency for Emergency Preparedness'

Dec. 14—A report out today, "Ready or Not 2010," documents the eroding readiness of states and localities to deal with public health problems—diseases, sanitation, bio-terrorism, etc.—to the degree described at a media briefing, as "an emergency for emergency preparedness."

Of 2,700 county and local public health departments surveyed, 73% have lost staff between June and December 2009 (and even more since). Given that the median staffing is 18 persons per department, there is no slack with which to continue essential functions. Therefore, "continued Federal, state and county funding cuts constitute an emergency for emergency preparedness," said Jeff Levi, Executive Director for the Trust for America's Health, which issued today's report and held the briefing, at which spokesmen for two associations of public health workers gave specifics.

Robert Pestronk, Executive Director of the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), said that there are far too few "boots-on-the-ground" to monitor disease outbreaks, conduct immunization, etc. Besides the fact that, since 2008, local departments have cut staff by 15%, there is also a wave of mandatory furloughs, unpaid workload, and similar measures for those still on payroll. In 2009, 13,000 members of the total public health cadre were affected this way.

During Obama's time in office, there has been a reduction of 13% in immunization capacity, 9% in detection and analysis of disease threats, and 7% in emergency preparedness, on the state and local level.

Two additional features make the situation even worse. First, local public health programs and staff, though decreasing, have been propped up over the past year by one-time-only Federal funds, now expiring—the "Recovery" Act and the H1N1 influenza response monies.

Secondly, today's cuts come on top of several years of decline. Since 2005, there has been a drop of 27% in Federal funding to state and local health services, when adjusted for inflation. These and other data were given by James S. Blumenstock, for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. There are "tens of thousands fewer jobs" today in this area, compared with 25 years ago. Moreover, "one-third of the public health workforce is eligible to retire in five years."

Tax Break Above $250,000? Median Income Is $50,221!

Dec. 12 (EIRNS)—Over 72 million Americans (almost half the wage-earning population) make less than $25,000 per year, according to an analysis put out by the website mybudget360. Median household income in the U.S. is just above $50,000—but that's with two wage-earners; 34 million Americans earn an average of $25,001 to $45,000 per year; and 33 million earn between $45,001 and $99,999. The lowest-paid 24 million Americans (6%) earned an average of $2,061, but that figure doesn't include those who made no money at all. Less than 7% of Americans make over $100,000, and less than 3% earn over $200,000.

Using Social Security wage data, which is much more refined in the upper income region than Census data, "My Budget 360" showed that the combined annual wages of the top 1% of the population ($790 billion) was more than that of the bottom 48% of the entire nation ($750 billion)! In a graph of wage distribution, which used to have a "bell" shape, with the majority in the middle income range, it is now more of a logarithmic decay shape, with the majority in the lowest income bracket, and tapering off as income increases.

Los Angeles: Homeless Capital of America

Dec. 13 (EIRNS)—City officials do not dispute that Los Angeles is the Homeless Capital of America. By one recent count, it has some 48,000 homeless people, including 6,000 veterans, out of its population of 3.8 million.

A New York Times piece today notes that in Los Angeles, the number of homeless people is growing faster than across the nation. A task force created by the Chamber of Commerce and the United Way of Greater Los Angeles has stepped in with a plan, called Home for Good, to end homelessness there in five years. The idea is to, among other things, build housing for 12,000 of the chronically unemployed, and to provide food, maintenance, and other services at a cost of $235 million a year.

Yet in a time of what the Times calls "severe budget retrenchment," the five-year goal seems "daunting." "Even though the drafters of the plan say that no new money will be needed to finance it, Los Angeles is already spending more than $235 million a year on hospital, overnight housing, and police costs dealing with the homeless," and "government financing of all social services has come under assault."

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