Massachusetts man denied cancer drug during partial government shutdown

Published October 03, 2013

| FoxNews.com

A Massachusetts man who was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer earlier this year is being denied a potentially life-saving drug because his hospital is unable to submit his application to a government-run website that has been down since the start of the partial government shutdown.

Leo Finn, 48, general manager for Sandwich, Mass.-based British Beer Co., has been undergoing chemotherapy at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston since his diagnosis for metastatic bile duct cancer in February. He told MyFoxBoston.com that he was responding to the treatment until three weeks ago.

“It felt like his diagnosis all over again,” said Finn's wife, Kimberly. “Only this time, with less hope.”

Kimberly and the couple's three children were devastated by the medical report. But they found some hope in a drug called cabozantinib, which was approved in November for thyroid cancer and on clinical trials for other cancers. His doctors expressed optimism, and prepared to put Finn on it.

The family had renewed optimism and even planned a trip to Disney World before he started the trial on Oct. 9.

But the federal government’s suspension of some services and furloughing of hundreds of thousands of workers has put his clinical test on hold. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not yet registered the drug for Finn's specific type of cancer, Finn told CapeCodOnline. The drug is approved for late-stage thyroid cancer, but not other forms of the disease.

A spokeswoman from the hospital told FoxNews.com that the funding for the drug trial is in place, but the hospital is unable to submit his application on the website, ClinicalTrials.gov, a database of clinical studies conducted around the world.

"I was mad. I feel terrible. I wanted to get this going," Finn told the paper. "As I've said before, I want to see my kids graduate, and I want to walk my daughter down the aisle."

The staff at Dana-Farber met Wednesday to review the patients on the list to be treated in these research studies and confirmed Finn would have to postpone treatment. The hospital normally protects patients' right to privacy, but Finn agreed to allow the hospital to identify him.

News of Finn’s struggle has spread in the Buzzards Bay community. Rep. William Keating, D-Mass., told the paper that he is looking for ways his office can intervene.

Fox News' Edmund DeMarche contributed to this report

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