A drug company refuses to give a dying 7-year-old boy experimental medication because doing so would cut into its profits.
Cancer survivor Josh Hardy is fighting a viral infection he developed after a recent bone-marrow transplant, and his family has turned to social media to pressure pharmaceutical maker Chimerix into providing the antiviral drug brincidofovir.
The North Carolina-based company has already turned down multiple requests by Josh’s doctors for the unapproved drug, and it has so far remained unmoved by thousands of requests made by friends, family members, and other supporters.
“Our son will die without this drug,” said the boy’s father, Todd Hardy. “We’re begging them to give it to us.”
But the company’s CEO, Kenneth Moch, said Chimerix cannot agree to provide the drug for compassionate use because it would then be obligated to share the drug with other patients – and he said that would be too costly.
“If this were just one patient wanting this drug, then this would be a very different question,” Moch said. “But it’s yes to all or no to all.”
Chimerix hopes to begin marketing brincidofovir by the end of 2016, and Moch said the 54-person company cannot afford to spend $50,000 on each compassionate-use patient or divert workers to handle the requests, patient records, and follow-up required by law.
The Food and Drug Administration permits drug manufacturers to share experimental drugs still awaiting approval with patients who have serious or life-threatening illness and unsuccessfully tried other treatment options.
The FDA approved 974 compassionate use arrangements in the last fiscal year, but pharmaceutical companies often turn down those requests.
Chimerix has already shared brincidofovir with more than 430 compassionate-use patients and is still accepting newborn patients with the herpes simplex virus who have used the drug in a previous trial, and the company would also share the antibiotic in the event of a smallpox bioterror attack.
But Moch said the company has no current studies under way for other children.
“We have great compassion for this family, but this is not just about a single boy,” said Moch, who admits he would feel “horrible” if Josh dies.
A medical ethicist said he understands both viewpoints.
“I have huge sympathy for the family,” said Arthur Caplan, of the New York University Langone Medical Center. “I think they are right to try and see what they can get for their child.”
But he said Chimerix, like many other small pharmaceutical companies, has limited resources and a responsibility to its investors.
“We can’t ask the company to turn into a philanthropy or their investors will back out,” Caplan said.
There’s no guarantee the drug will work, he added.
“It’s always a long shot that it will help and not make things worse,” Caplan said.
But Josh’s parents are willing to take that risk in hopes of saving their son’s life.
“He holds our son’s life in his hands,” Todd Hardy said. “This is just beyond belief to me.”
Watch this video report posted online by WJLA-TV:
6 thoughts on “Company withholds experimental drug from dying 7-year-old boy to preserve profits”
If those thousands of people cursing at the company for its stance all coughed up a few dollars each it would be problem solved. I would bet that fewer than 5% of these bleeding hearts would part with their own cash fo the cause they all appear to be so passionate about.
I don’t think it’s that simple or someone would be taking up a collection.
The CEO’s (Kenneth Moch) complaint was that he would then have to give it to other kids, but I don’t see that as a legitimate excuse either.
The “medical ethicist” is about as ethical as a hungry shark, and if Chimerix has a drug that could save a lot of people right now, they have a moral obligation to share it with as many people as possible, and should also have no trouble raising the investment capital to make that possible.
What billionaire wouldn’t want part of a pharmaceutical company that holds the patent on the latest wonder-drug? The problem here is that they don’t want to share the profits with any new investors, or in other words, this kid’s going to die because the Chimerix Board of Directors is a gang of greedy scumbags, which is what you probably assumed in the first place.
Thank you for not automatically assuming I am some sort of corporate sympathiser by nature.
It would be a real pity to find out that if that kid dies from their greed ,that they were found committing suicide much like the bankers that are being thrown out windows and roof tops now.A real pity I tell ya.
Cracker,need a hand?!I wonder how much taxpayer monies that company got to do research,how many taxpayer universities were used for tests/trials/ect.,wonder what corp. produced the product that possibly gave the kid a disease.That said,will pony up 20,anyone here knows someone who knows how to get something like this going would be cool.I would also still like to know how much they got in taxpayer help and then leave the citizen high and dri.I am a firm believer in capitalism but when public funds involved in drug research there needs to be a better way.5
There are laws against ‘better ways’.