(p. A15) How far would you go to get a drug that could save your child’s life? Across an ocean? That is exactly what the federal government is forcing some American families with dying children to do.
In 2012, when Diego Morris was 11 years old, he was diagnosed with a deadly cancer in his leg called osteosarcoma. Doctors at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., removed the tumor, but the prognosis was poor. There was a significant risk that even extensive chemotherapy after surgery would not prevent the cancer from returning.
Fortunately, a team of doctors at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City had developed a revolutionary new drug, mifamurtide (MTP), that can prevent osteosarcoma from coming back. A study by Dr. Eugenie Kleinerman of MD Anderson and Dr. Paul Meyers of Sloan Kettering showed the drug resulted in a 30% reduction in the osteosarcoma mortality rate at eight years after diagnosis.
The drug was approved in 2009 by the European Medicines Agency and is currently the standard of care in Europe, Israel and many other countries. In 2012 it received the prestigious Prix Galien Award, the gold medal for pharmaceutical research and development in the United Kingdom.
MPT was exactly what Diego needed. But there was one problem: The drug was not available in America because the Food and Drug Administration had rejected it, demanding additional studies. That meant that Diego had to travel from Phoenix to London to get the drug he needed to save his life–a drug that was available in almost every industrialized nation and should have been available in the U.S.
For the full commentary, see:
DARCY OLSEN. “Winning the Right to Save Your Own Life; As the FDA dawdles, 24 states pass ‘right-to-try’ laws giving terminally ill patients access to drugs.” The Wall Street Journal (Fri., Nov. 27, 2015): A15.
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Nov. 26, 2015.)
Olsen’s commentary is related to her book:
Olsen, Darcy. The Right to Try: How the Federal Government Prevents Americans from Getting the Lifesaving Treatments They Need. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2015.