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It’s been years, she said, since she has found a drug that has actually helped. McCarthy said she’s frustrated that the Food and Drug Administration is approving cancer drugs without proof that they cure patients or help them live longer.

“That simply isn’t good enough,” said McCarthy, of Coventry, R.I. “I understand [why] that could be satisfactory for some people. It isn’t to me.”

Pushed by patient advocates who want earlier access to medications, the­ FDA has approved a flurry of oncology drugs in recent years, giving some people with cancer a renewed sense of hope and an array of expensive new options. A few of these drugs have been clear home runs, allowing patients with limited life expectancies to live for years.

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