Charles Krupa/AP
Biogen Idec Inc. headquarters in
Cambridge, Mass

Terminally Ill Cancer Patient Denied Potentially Lifesaving Drug

October 14, 2008 06:10 PM
by Christopher Coats
With hours to live, cancer patient Frederick Baron’s last option for survival has been blocked by the CEO of a pharmaceutical company.
A high-profile cancer case has become a standoff, as the CEO of an embattled pharmaceutical company has refused to release one of its drugs to a patient.

The drug in question, Tysbari, was designed to treat patients suffering from multiple sclerosis, but was pulled by the FDA in 2005 after a series of deadly brain infections were detected during a testing period.

After Tysbari returned to the market in 2006, cases of similar infections arose in August of this year, leading to fears that the drug was responsible, although the drug remains on the market.

This week the company was asked to deliver the drug to the bed of Frederick Baron—father of Andrew Baron, founder of the Web site Rocketboom—after his doctor suggested it could be used to treat a life-threatening case of multiple myeloma.

Bolstered by support of a series of well-connected friends, including Lance Armstrong, Bill Clinton, and Senators John Kerry, Ted Kennedy and Tom Harkin, the younger Baron successfully appealed to the FDA to allow the drug to be used to combat the elder Baron’s illness.

Frederick Baron's doctors say he has 24 to 48 hours to live.
Perhaps worried about the ongoing complications with the drug, the pharmaceutical company’s CEO has refused to deliver the drug.

The drug manufacturer, Biogen Idec, suffered significant financial losses following the removal of the drug in 2005, and its stock price plunged in August following the announcement that Tysbari was again linked to cases of brain infections.

Earlier this year, the drug was suspected in cases of liver toxicity, outlined in an announcement by the FDA.

With the support of friends and associates, Andrew Baron has launched an appeal to convince the company’s CEO, James Mullen, to reverse his decision and allow the use of the drug to treat his father before it is too late.

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