Fred Baron is a prominent trial lawyer that has helped hundreds of people fight legal battles arising from unlawful exposure to asbestos.
Fred Baron is a Democratic Party Fundraiser who helped finance John Edwards presidential campaign.
Fred Baron paid hush-money to Edwards’ mistress and spirited her out of North Carolina when things were starting to get dicey.
Fred Baron is dying from multiple myeloma.
His doctors want to try the drug Tysabri as an “off-label”, last-ditch treatment for him, but the drug’s maker, Biogen Idec, has said no. Tysabri is approved for MS and Crohn’s diseases. It has been implicated in very rare cases of causing (or contributing to) the development of fatal brain infections in some patients – enough that the FDA briefly pulled it off the market to investigate the matter. Biogen Idec has had to field several lawsuits arising from this outcome. As such, they understandably want to limit the use of Tysabri and apply it only to those cases for which it is approved.
Enter former President Bill Clinton, Senators Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, Representative Henry Waxman and Cyclist-endorser Lance Armstrong. They have all made public statements and lobbied the FDA as well as the CEO of Biogen Idec to permit the “compassionate” use of Tysabri for Baron. After several days, Biogen Idec relented and has allowed the used of Tysabri in the case.
I’ve been thinking about this case for a week now and am not sure how to feel.
Yes, those would be the same politicians that routinely malign drug companies and have argued for laws and regulations preventing “off-label” uses of drugs. But when it’s a friend of yours that’s dying, it’s ok. I guess what it comes down to is unequal access. That the rich, powerful and connected (who spend their days arguing that the rich, powerful and connected of the other party are hurting the "little guy") can get something that no little guy can and that they can force the issue in the court of public opinion if need be.
How many other “Freds” are out there? Dying with no more recourse for new treatments? Do you think Bill and Hillary and Lance would have called for them? For you or me? For Karl Rove? Does that seem fair? No.
And yet, neither does letting Fred Baron not have any more chances.