The protests are being organized for New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Madison, Atlanta, Seattle, Dearborn, and Tampa, as well as in Chicago, where the American Society of Clinical Oncology will hold its meeting. Other groups expected to join include the Cancer Cure Coalition, the Abigail Alliance, A Right To Live, and the Sarcoma Foundation of America. (Here is the schedule with times and places).
The specter of a protest is likely to unnerve the American Society of Clinical Oncology, because threats were allegedly made at last year’s event against two cancer docs who were dissenters on the FDA panel that recommended approval for Provenge. After the FDA panel meeting, those two docs - Howard Scher of Sloan-Kettering Memorial Cancer, and Maha Hussain of the University of Michigan - wrote FDA officials urging the go-slow approach that the agency adopted. The New York protest is, not surprisingly, scheduled to be held at Sloan-Kettering.
The behind-the-scenes machinations caused a firestorm - cancer patients have rallied outside FDA offices, and the controversy further fueled a debate about the use and approval of experimental meds. The lawsuit, meanwhile, claims the two panel members held undisclosed financial conflicts of interest and alleged a Byzantine power play involving a key FDA official who sought to sway the outcome of the approval.
Meanwhile, CareToLive has recently taken to running advertisements in newspapers in Maryland - where FDA headquarters are located -featuring people who are suffering from prostate cancer.