Massachusetts man to start new cancer drug treatment despite partial government shutdown

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A Cape Cod father, whose clinical trial cancer treatment was put on hold when the federal government furloughed some of its workers amid the budget debate, will be able to undergo treatment on schedule thanks to the efforts of Congressman Bill Keating, D-Mass.,

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 was responding to the treatment until three weeks ago when the chemotherapy stopped working.


Finn and his wife found 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.


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But the federal government’s suspension of some services and furloughing of hundreds of thousands of workers has put his clinical test on hold.

A spokeswoman from the hospital told Thursday that the funding for the drug trial is in place, but the hospital is unable to submit his application on the website,, 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."

Keating, who is the Congressman from Finn’s district, learned about the story said he felt compelled to act.

He was able to get the National Institute of Health to bring in several furloughed employees and classify them as essential employees to get approval for the Dana-Farber clinical trial. Additionally, Keating's action got approval for several other trials across the country.

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