Should a drug company give an untested drug to a cancer patient if that is the person’s final hope to live?
Andrea Sloan, 45, is the director the Texas Advocacy Project, an anti-domestic violence organization, so she is no stranger to activism.
But now, she is rallying others to her own cause.
Sloan is on the verge of losing a seven-year fight against ovarian cancer and she says an unapproved, experimental treatment from the company BioMarin Pharmaceuticals is her final hope of saving her life.
Sloan, of Austin, Texas, has taken to Twitter, as well as lobbied Texas lawmakers, to persuade the company to let her try the drug, BMN673, under a “compasisonate use” exemption that is supposed to allow companies to give untested drugs to patients for whom all other treatments have failed.
“I’ve had several rounds of traditional chemotherapy,” said Sloan (pictured). “I’ve had two rounds of radiation. I've had five major surgeries. But none of those treatments have stopped the cancer.”
Her oncologist, Dr. Charles Levenback, of MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, says that BMN673 is her last hope to live.
In a statement, BioMarin Pharmaceuticals, which continues to deny Sloan’s requests for the drug, said that it is “too early to know if the experimental therapy is safe or effective, or will even prolong life.”
The company’s chief medical officer, however, has made public statements gushing about the drug.
“BMN 673 appears to have superior potency, selectivity and bioavailability as compared to other products in development,” said Henry Fuchs.
Sloan’s Twitter and Facebook campaign, known as “Andi’s Army,” has rallied celebrities and politicians including Wynona Judd and Newt Gingrich to her cause. Recently, 82 Texas legislators from both parties signed a letter urging that BioMarin give Sloan the drug.
SOURCES: Huffington Post, Andi’s Army Facebook Page, KXAN News, KEYE TV