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Charity offers to pay for 7-year-old's lifesaving treatment; drug maker still refuses

Moch and Hardy.jpg

Chimerix CEO Kenneth Moch (L) and 7-year-old Josh Hardy (R) ((Chimerix/Aimee Hardy))

A pediatric cancer charity is offering to pay for 7-year-old cancer survivor Josh Hardy to receive lifesaving medication that could cure him of a potentially deadly virus.

But Chimerix, the pharmaceutical company that produces the medication, is still refusing to give Josh the treatment he so desperately needs.  In fact, a representative for the charity said he tried speaking with Chimerix CEO Kenneth Moch about Josh's case - but Moch hung up on him.

Over the course of his childhood, Josh has survived four bouts of kidney cancer and even suffered from heart failure.  Then, in November 2013, he developed a bone marrow disorder as a result of his cancer treatments and underwent chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. Though his treatments were a success, Josh subsequently developed adenovirus – an acute infection that can be deadly in people with compromised immune systems.

Doctors at St. Jude recommended that Josh be treated with Brincidofovir – an antiviral drug that has been proven to clear up adenovirus in children within two weeks.  However, the drug has not yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), preventing Josh’s family from gaining access to the medication.

Josh’s mother, Aimee Hardy, has appealed to Moch to grant Josh emergency access to the medication, but the company is refusing to make an exception.  According to Fox News’ Peter Johnson Jr., Chimerix has given hundreds of patients emergency access to Brincidofovir in the past, but Moch said the company has since stopped this practice because “they cannot afford it.”

Now, the Max Cure Foundation, a charity dedicated to researching rare pediatric cancers, has offered to pay for the cost of the drug – but Chimerix still won’t budge.

“I spoke to Mr. Moch yesterday by phone.  I told him that we had the $50,000 that I thought he was claiming he needed to supply the drug,” Richard Plotkin, vice chair of the Max Cure Foundation, told Johnson Jr. on Fox and Friends.  “He then told me it isn’t about money.  He told me it’s all about ethics.  I said, ‘Fine, tell me why you will not give [it to] this little boy.’ If he does not get the drug, he will die this week, I’m told.  He said he cannot make an exception.”

Through a grassroots campaign launched by Josh’s mother, Chimerix has received hundreds of phone calls and emails in support of Josh, and the hashtag #savejosh has been trending on Twitter.  Supporters have even started chartering buses so they can protest at the company’s headquarters.

Although support for Josh is strong, Hardy says her son is running out of 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.”

Plotkin asked Moch if he would react differently if Josh was his child or grandchild, but Plotkin said Moch refused to answer and hung up the phone.

“As a result, it appears the final plea is to the board of directors at Chimerix…I ask the board to close their eyes, and as you close your eyes, assume there’s a little boy lying in a hospital bed who says to his father, ‘Daddy, am I going to die? And if I’m going to die, who will take care of me in heaven?’” Plotkin said. “And then I want you to assume that this little boy is your child or grandchild. And members of the board of directors, I have no doubt how you would respond to that.”