Shutdown holds up new NIH clinical trials
Updated On: Oct 02 2013 01:25:23 PM CDT
Michelle Langbehn, 30, has endured nine months of chemotherapy, two cycles of radiation, a spinal fusion and several tumor removal surgeries. But the cancer that's attacking her body continues to spread, and her future treatment options are limited.
There was hope for the Auburn, California, mom -- a clinical trial that's testing a new drug called Cabozantinib that's been approved to fight other cancers. Researchers at the National Institutes of Health had gathered Langbehn's medical records; they were set to evaluate her status on Monday to make an official enrollment decision, she says.
Then the government shut down.
Every week, hundreds of patients like Langbehn are admitted to new clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health. But as of Tuesday, these patients are being put on hold until the government resumes operation.
"Due to the lapse in government funding ... transactions submitted via the web site may not be processed, and the agency may not be able to respond to inquiries until appropriations are enacted," a message on the top of the NIH website states.
Every week, about 200 new patients come to the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Patients are now being told they will have to wait until the government starts up again to begin their trials, according to NIH spokesman John Burklow.
"In fact, six new studies would have started this week that we are deferring," Burklow said.
Approximately 30 of the 200 new patients are children, he said, and about 10 of those children are cancer patients.
"I am furious," Langbehn said. "They are denying or delaying potentially life-saving treatments to Americans in need of a miracle. I speak for everyone battling cancer when I saw we don't have time to wait."
Langbehn's oncologist gave her two years to live. That was last July. "I do not plan on letting this take me away from my family," she says.
Burklow did note that participants who are already in studies are still being treated and will continue with their trials. Burklow also said patients in desperate need of treatment will be handled differently and will more than likely be seen by physicians or nurses at the NIH Clinical Center.
About 75% of NIH's employees -- or about 14,700 people -- have been furloughed.
Researchers at other institutions who have received NIH grants are not affected by the government shutdown. But the agency is not accepting any new grant applications.
Copyright 2013 by CNN NewSource. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Ready for round 2? More snow to follow what fell Sunday
Coroner IDs man killed in 56-vehicle pileup on Pa. Turnpike
Nearly 100 vehicles involved in pair of wrecks in Chester, Berks counties
Police: Newlyweds lure man for thrill killing
30-vehicle pileup leaves thousands stranded in snow on I-78
Two dead in crash on I-78 in New Jersey
Coroner IDs man killed in 56-car pileup on Pa. Turnpike
2 adults, 4 children missing in Nevada
Employee pistol whipped during robbery of Muhlenberg Township video games store, police say
Wintry weather wreaking havoc on highways