Friday, November 21, 2008
Medical Reports: Experimental Drugs
Some new drugs can take over ten years to be approved. Critics say the FDA takes too long to give the go ahead to life saving medications and therapies. Others believe it's better to be safe than sorry. In tonight's Healthcast Seven's Christine Cruz reports on how some lives are hanging in the balance of this debate.
WSVN -- Abigail Burroughs: "So many people have helped me and that has meant so much to me."
This video of Abigail Burroughs was taken just weeks before she died from neck cancer. In the last seven months of her life she not only fought the disease, but the federal government as well.
Abigail Burroughs: "I wish that they would just sit down and get to know me and then be able to sit down and look me in the eye and tell me, 'No.'"
The FDA refused to allow Abigail access to a drug that may have prolonged, even saved her life. After she died, the drug she was fighting for Erbitux (urb-ih-tucks) Was approved.
Frank Burroughs Abigail's Father: "There is just this mindset that if we have any kind of change it will hurt the clinical trial system."
Abigail's father created the Abigail Alliance to take her fight to Capitol Hill. Lawmakers are debating whether terminally-ill patients who have exhausted all other options should have access to investigational drugs.
Frank Burroughs: "There's a lot of lives that could be saved and extended. Tens of thousands of lives."
Colin Begg PHD Society for Clinical Trials: "I don't think patients are in need of experimental drugs. What they are in need of are drugs that actually work."
But the Society for Clinical Trials opposes the access legislation. It claims many drugs that initially seem promising are later revealed to be worthless or harmful.
Colin Begg: "Statistics show that 90 percent of all drugs that pass phase 1 testing are ultimately shown to be ineffective or too toxic."
But patient families say some drugs take over a decade to be approved. Time their loved ones don't have.
Jacob's mother: "I believe that there will be nothing more difficult on this earth than to watch my child deteriorate and to lose my child."
Jacob is living with a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy. His battle for an experimental drug has ended up in court with no end in sight.
Jacob: "I have hope to just get this drug to just get it before it's too late."
So now his mom has to wait. Hoping for a miracle of medicine before it's too late.
Jacob's mother: "You can't give up. I need to know at the end of the day that I've done everything I can to save his life."
The access act also pushes for placebo-free drug trials in hopes more people will get involved in clinical trials if they know they will be receiving the drug in question.
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