A small biotechnology company agreed Tuesday evening to make an experimental drug available to a gravely ill Virginia boy who contracted an infection while he was being treated for cancer. Though the company, Chimerix, first said it could not help 7-year-old Josh Hardy without others expecting the same treatment, it reversed course in a statement released Tuesday night.
Josh, of Fredericksburg, developed adenovirus, a bone marrow disorder, following years of cancer treatments. He will be the first patient to get the drug, brincidofovir, Fox News reported. Chimerix endured a storm of outrage after it first reportedly denied him the medication.
According to Fox News, it was rumored that CEO Kenneth I. Moch hung up on phone call with a representative from a charity who offered to pay for the medication. But on Tuesday, Moch said the company would supply Josh with the much-needed medicine.
"This 20-patient open-label study underscores Chimerix's mission to develop innovative antiviral therapies in areas of high unmet need -- for everyone," Moch said. "Being unable to fulfill requests for compassionate use is excruciating, and not a decision any one of us ever wants to have to make. It is essential that each individual in a health crisis be treated with equal gravity and value, a principle we have upheld by pursuing further clinical study of brincidofovir that will inform its use in adenovirus and other serious DNA viral infections."
Josh’s mother, Aimee Hardy, has been credited with starting the campaign to get her son the help he needs. Chimerix reportedly received hundreds of emails and phone calls in support of Josh, with the hashtag #savejosh becoming a trending topic on Twitter.
Though the immediate news for Josh is positive, Aimee explained he doesn’t have much time. “It’s horrible for us as parents to see, because he’s a vibrant, strong little boy, and even though he is frail, he has a very strong will about him,” Hardy told Fox News. “But things just keep stacking against him, and we just want to do everything we can to give him the opportunity to make a full recovery.”
According to CNN, Josh was diagnosed with a rare form of kidney cancer when he was 9 months old. Over the years, Josh would go on to be diagnosed with cancer in his thymus, lung, and bone marrow, and each time he beat it. But the bone marrow transplant didn’t leave Josh with much of an immune system and he soon contracted a virus.
His doctors at St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis said in a statement Josh should receive the drug within 48 hours, but it’s unclear if it will be effective for children. "St. Jude will continue to pursue state-of-the-art treatment for Josh and all of our patients. We are grateful for the efforts of Chimerix, the FDA and many others who worked to achieve this outcome,” the hospital said, according to CNN. "We ask that you continue to keep Josh and his family in your thoughts."
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