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Child cancer patient deals with drug shortage
February 24th, 2012
10:04 AM ET

Child cancer patient deals with drug shortage

Editor's note: Owen McMasters, 12, was diagnosed with Acuta Lymphoblastic Leukemia in November 2011. His family has been dealing with the shortage of methotrexate, a drug that treats cancer by slowing the growth of cancer cells. Between 2006 and 2010, drug shortages increased by more than 200%. Read more about these shortages, and what the FDA is doing to help, on The Chart.

Learning that the enlarged lymph nodes I showed my mom meant Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), a type of cancer, and not mono, was devastating.

It meant that I would not be returning to school until at least next August. It meant I would spend unknown amounts of time in the hospital. It meant I would not be able to be around groups of people. (I have to limit which friends and family members I am around, since a simple cold for you could mean severe illness for me.)

It meant my hair I loved fell out, leaving me with baby bird fuzz on my head.

I underwent two operations in the first 36 hours and then went under anesthesia for either a spinal tap with chemotherapy, a bone marrow biopsy, or both, nearly every week. Because my platelets and white blood cell count are often critically low, I am unable to ride my bike, play any sports, wrestle with my brothers or do many of the things I like to do.

My new friends are other kids with bald or fuzzy heads who are going through the same thing as me.

Because I have every intention of beating cancer, and seem to be doing a great job of it so far (despite being told in November that my cancer was high-risk), I have done everything my doctors have asked of me.

I take many different kinds of chemotherapy drugs, at least once per week and sometimes many days per week. I have to get my blood drawn frequently. I have to get up early, go to the doctor’s office or the hospital, and spend many hours getting treatment. I have been in the hospital sometimes for up to 10 days in a row.

I had a severe infection from my immune system being wiped out.

I have to get radiation treatments in my brain. Sometimes the treatments don’t bother me too much; sometimes they make me tired, weak, nauseated and unable to eat for days. They make me cramp all over and swell.

While none of this is any fun, I do what I have to do and deal with it in my own way. I joke with the doctors. I entertain my parents. Sometimes I use bad words and get away with it because I have cancer. But I do everything I am told to do because I am going to live and be cured of cancer. The doctors say I have a very good chance to be cured if I take all of the treatments, which last for three and a half years.

Two weeks ago my main doctor told me I was doing better than he ever expected. He was honestly shocked with my latest bone marrow biopsy. But in the next minute he told my mom I would likely not be able to undergo my next phase of chemo.

The next phase is high dose methotrexate. I would receive this drug all the time - through an IV in my spine. It is the most frequent drug and the high dose is evidently going to be hard. I was ready for it because it is also what will keep my cancer from returning. It is what will make me live.

My doctor told me drug companies had stopped making methotrexate in the form I needed and that the shortage was so bad no one would be able to get it in the next few weeks unless something drastic changed. He said the shortage had been going on to some degree for two years, but that it was critical now.

I knew it was critical - it was going to affect me and all the other kids in the clinic that day and all the kids in the U.S. who also have ALL.

I asked if we could get it from other countries and was told it isn’t that easy. He also said that the shortage of chemotherapy drugs for kids with cancer was a constant problem and was not just with methotrexate. Six months ago there was a shortage of AraC, another drug I take frequently.

That very day the clinic nurses asked me if I had decided what I wanted for my wish from the Make A Wish Foundation. The people from Make a Wish had visited me the last time I was in the hospital, but I was so sick I only talked to them briefly.

I talked to my parents and told them I would feel bad asking for something to be bought for me but might consider something all the kids could enjoy at clinic or on the children’s oncology unit at Kosair Children’s Hospital.

After I got home from clinic, we researched the methotrexate shortage and found that my doctor wasn’t exaggerating. I decided my wish would be to fix the shortage of chemotherapy drugs so that other kids could get the treatments that they need to be cured of cancer.

I wanted to make the shortage of methotrexate known by everyone who could do something about it. I wanted the drug companies to share my goal of curing my cancer and cancer in lots of other kids by making these drugs, even though they are cheap and might not make as much money as some others.

The FDA has said that methotrexate will be available for now. But this problem is not solved for good. A permanent solution to this problem must be found. I don’t care how the problem is solved, it just needs to be solved.

I like to think that I helped to make a difference by sharing my story. Thanks to Dr. Gupta and others who have expressed an interest in helping my wish to come true.

I plan to live.

See Owen and his family and learn more about the shortage of critical cancer drugs on "Sanjay Gupta, M.D." on Saturday and Sunday at 7:30 a.m. ET.


soundoff (180 Responses)
  1. Sarah

    Owen, you amaze and inspire me. I'm going to start researching now what I can do to help this cause!!!

    February 24, 2012 at 10:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Joe

      Beautiful kid (inside and out, apparently).

      Hoping, wishing, wanting, praying isn't going to help Owen. People have to care enough to get off their butts and actually *do* something. Question is: Who will? A lot of pointing at corporate execs, but the fact is *you* and *I* are no better.

      February 24, 2012 at 14:10 | Report abuse |
    • Duke5343

      GET used to it, healthcare run bu USG is going to put US in lowest classs of care in the world, below Cuba or other 3rd world toilets- Wait till you need an MRI and your 60+ and USG Acorn case worker says NOPE you got to wait 1 year – etc

      WHEN has the USG run any private business correctly??? Be careful for what you wish for

      February 24, 2012 at 14:29 | Report abuse |
    • OK

      Duke, I TAKE it you're moving to Cuba OR Somalia to IMPROVE your quality of LIFE.

      February 24, 2012 at 14:51 | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      Duke – Insurance companies and providers are already saying 'nope'. They are saying 'Nope' to more and more things for more and more people. And that 'Nope' is based solely on the almighty dollar. I'd rather put my trust in elected human representation when given the choice.

      February 24, 2012 at 15:11 | Report abuse |
  2. Raymond Ayala

    this is the most comprehensive story i have ever ready, this kid has one wish, and that wish was to save other kids. this kid knows what life is, and he tends to live while he helps others, i really see this kid grow to be something and i also want the FDA and Drug companies to learn from this kid, he's young but he's a fighter, society would be better if we had more people like him . Hope You Get Better

    February 24, 2012 at 11:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Catherine

    The question we all need to ask is what is causing these shortages. Is it a problem in manufacturing? Is it a greed problem where the drug companies decided there wasn't enough profit margin so they manufactured a drug with a larger margin? I think this is something Congress would do well to look into rather than the nonsense they look into with professional athletes every once in a while. Everyone needs to contact Congress and tell them to look into this.

    February 24, 2012 at 11:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Michael

      Manufacturing issue at one of very few plants that produce preservative-free methotrexate (used for intrathecal administration). The pharm co., Ben Venue, voluntarily suspended production over quality control concerns. The FDA has got a couple of 'band-aids' in place for now, allowing shipments from abroad, http://t.co/h1SmGLQe and releasing current supplies while asking other manufacturers to pick up the lost production for the time being http://t.co/wSAqGavU

      Congress is also working on some legislation (albeit extremely slowly considering the need for these bills) that will require better advanced notice of pharm co. impending short supply issues in order to help prevent sudden supply issues in the future.

      February 24, 2012 at 13:14 | Report abuse |
    • Pete

      You can call it greed or you can call it corporate common sense. Methotrexate is not profitable for a drug company to make. It is a drug that has been around since the 40's has no patent restrictions. This means that a company cannot inflate the cost on it and therefore there is no incentive to make it. Why make something that is profitable. It sucks, but it's business.

      February 24, 2012 at 13:19 | Report abuse |
    • Jake

      Government price controls may be at the root of these rising shortages.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/07/opinion/sunday/ezekiel-emanuel-cancer-patients.html?_r=1

      "The act had an unintended consequence. In the first two or three years after a cancer drug goes generic, its price can drop by as much as 90 percent as manufacturers compete for market share. But if a shortage develops, the drug’s price should be able to increase again to attract more manufacturers. Because the 2003 act effectively limits drug price increases, it prevents this from happening. The low profit margins mean that manufacturers face a hard choice: lose money producing a lifesaving drug or switch limited production capacity to a more lucrative drug."

      February 24, 2012 at 13:58 | Report abuse |
    • CosmicC

      If you view medicine as a business, then this is the result. The companies will make profit-oriented decisions that will cost peoples' lives. Isn't it time to start treating medicine as a social obligation to all members of society?

      February 24, 2012 at 14:37 | Report abuse |
    • Erik

      It is really multiple factors.
      1. This specific drug is generic. There is not much profit in it and nobody is forced to make them. Drug companies would rather commit their employees and infrastructure to making higher profit margin drugs. Business 101 (and while the ethics are at direct odds with what people expect for healthcare, Wall Street does not care if anyone dies as long as the company thrives).
      2. Increased global use. China and India are now importing drugs that they could never afford before.
      3. Static production / slim production margins. Obviously in a perfect world there would be very little inventory (because drugs have an expiration date) and easy up and downscaling of production to meet demand. That isn't true of most drugs which cannot be suddenly scaled up in production if demand increases or some manufacturing facility burns down.
      4. Increased government regulation and oversight. A small factor but an important one. Safety is absolutely at utmost importance but sometimes reason production is halted has little to do with actual threats to safety and more a pattern of less than perfection so the government tells them to stop manufacturing.
      5. Dated supply equipment. Production facilities have to shut down to upgrade. If it is the only one, or one of a very few production facilities there is going to be a shortage until they can get back and running. This happened a couple years ago with a radiolabeled tracer for nuclear medicine studies ... both world production facilities shut down at the same time to modernize and didn't produce the supply to cover the 3 months they would be off-line, result was nobody had any drug.
      6. Rumors and fear. This has started happening so often due to the above factors that rumors get started that "Drug X" may have supply problems and pharmacies everywhere start stockpiling just exacerbating (or producing) the shortage.

      There is lots of blame to go around everywhere for these problems, some are unavoidable, some are just business trying to optimize itself for "widget production", never mind their widgets are a bit more important than pet rocks.

      February 24, 2012 at 14:46 | Report abuse |
  4. Maria

    Owen keep fighting!!! You are an inspiration and you already are making a difference!!

    February 24, 2012 at 12:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Maria

    Owen God bless you boy! I will pray for a quick recovery keep strong!

    February 24, 2012 at 12:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Dale

    This is off subject but,I went to target with my friend she needed a few items, when we got through she needed to go to the ladies room as I sit there and watched people I noticed several of them were coughing and sneezing and were miserable sick, and they were spreading their germs all over the handles of the shopping carts, and then we went to the gas station I noticed the same thing people spreading germs all over the gasoline nozzles.
    ""The department of disease control should make it mandatory"" that all shopping carts are steam cleaned once a day and the same for gas pump nozzles to help stop the spread of germs.
    The American people need to start insisting upon this

    February 24, 2012 at 13:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • sockpuppet

      yeah totally comparable to kids with cancer–hey go get on a soap box somewhere else

      February 24, 2012 at 13:23 | Report abuse |
    • cmh

      People should be smart enough to wash their hands before eating and not touch their faces (with dirty hands). Wow – that would be something you could do – no legislation needed. And, um yes your comment was off topic. Apparently people just need to stop being idiots.

      February 24, 2012 at 13:47 | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Since many cancers are transmitted via virus, I don't think this is unreasonable at all.

      February 24, 2012 at 14:04 | Report abuse |
    • Heather

      Why don't you just wash your hands after you pump gas? And before eating, as I teach my third graders to do.

      February 24, 2012 at 14:17 | Report abuse |
    • Heath

      I have to disagree with you Joe. There is only one virus, HPV, that has been proven to cause cancer. There are no known cancer-causing viruses that are transmitted via air, coughing, or casual social contact.

      February 24, 2012 at 14:53 | Report abuse |
    • Not a Scholar

      Washing your hands before a meal and WHAT?? Do you know how many times a day you touch things that could be carrying germs and how many times a day you tough your face? How about how many times you breath in air in the vicinity of someone that coughed or sneezed. This junk about washing your hands 200 times a day is nothing more than the soap companies getting you to purchase their products. Seconds after you wash you hands guess what? Germs are back.

      February 24, 2012 at 15:11 | Report abuse |
  7. Cory

    Your an amazing pewrson Owen. You are a symbol of what's good in this world and having people like you in this world make me feel better about our society. Keep up the stong fight cuz I know you'll beat it. Remember buddy we are thinking about you and wishing you the best.

    February 24, 2012 at 13:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Mark

    companies don't care if you live or die. it is all about making a profit. you can't force them to make it because of capitalism. capitalism is about making a profit. tell make a wish foundation that you want to speak to the president of the United States and all of congress to solve this problem and to remove whatever barrier there is to allow the company to turn a profit. shameless as it is.

    February 24, 2012 at 13:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Not a Scholar

      Actually, you could force companies to produce drugs that might otherwise not be profitable for them. Tie the production of a certain amount of drugs to the application of grants and loans from the government for research. You want research money? Start making so of these drugs. Period.

      February 24, 2012 at 15:13 | Report abuse |
  9. DEH

    Who is this idiot complaining about folks sneezing on shopping cart handles and gas pump handles when the article is about a kid with CANCER who may DIE if he doesn't get the drugs he needs. More importantly, he made a wish for ALL kids to get the drugs they need to beat their cancers, a most wonderful wish to ask for.

    Whoever you are with the sneezing phobia: get a grip. Get a bottle of alcohol laden germophobia antibacterial goop. Or better yet, go wash your freakin' hands and get over yourself. MY GOD.

    February 24, 2012 at 13:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • fiscalfury

      DEH-Thank you for that post, my thought as well, although yours was much funnier-thanks for the laugh out loud minute or 2. (and I'm at work!)

      February 24, 2012 at 13:50 | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Many cancers are transmitted via virus... HPV is a common one, but there are many more and many more worse.

      February 24, 2012 at 14:04 | Report abuse |
  10. nancy simpson

    May God bless you Owen and keep you in His care. You are a very unselfish and caring person; not just caring about yourself getting well but other kids with cancer. You are one in a million!!! My hat is off to you, Owen...

    February 24, 2012 at 13:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. stevensb

    No profit , no medicine , no profit , no health care ........... the health care industry = the real death panels !!!! National , single payer health care NOW !!!

    February 24, 2012 at 13:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Amy

      National single-payer health care would not force companies to make this drug, it would only change where payment for the drug would come from (from a national insurance pool rather than the individual). Perhaps if we stop focusing on insurance and start focusing on the cost of healthcare, we can begin addressing the systemic inadequacies that result in tragic situations like this one.

      Politics and all it's hard-heartedness aside, Owen thank you for inspiring us with your strength, courage, and kind heart. I pray that you get the medicine you need to heal.

      February 24, 2012 at 15:11 | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Amy... what is the difference between a single health care payer and a national insurance pool?

      February 25, 2012 at 13:18 | Report abuse |
  12. Martin

    This is just an engineered shortage by the drug industry to drive up the price. The one and only goal of the healthcare industry has become to strip everyone else of every last penny of their wealth. Any way they can drive up the pricing on any product they will do so.

    February 24, 2012 at 13:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Deb

    Insurance company bigwigs.....read this article. Drug company reps and manufacturers....read this article. (Of course I doubt if the majority of those hard-core, profit-addicted, money-above-all robots will feel anything.) No one....NO ONE....battling disease should ever even have to consider not having what they need to face their illness. All the best, Owen.

    February 24, 2012 at 13:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Jennifer

    Owen, you are an amazing person and a huge inspiration to everyone. Your parents I'm sure are so proud and also very lucky to have you!! God knows this. You are doing wonderful, stay strong for you and the friends you've made. You're a source of support for them and it also helps you too. You will pull through this!! I'm praying for you and your family tonight and each time I say a prayer. Hugs from CT!

    February 24, 2012 at 13:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Sheila

    Waiting patiently for a display of the GOP's righteous anger on "death squads".

    February 24, 2012 at 13:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Keith

    Tsk tsk tsk CNN. NPR covered the drug part of this story last week (they used a different patient as the center of the report).

    I'm no corporate defender, but there appears to be a detail missing in this report. One of the major producers of the drug has been on notice for a couple years about their aged and crumbling production facilities. The producer was finally shut down. Their production equipment had not been serviced for so long that flakes of rust and other contaminants were increasingly ending up in the medications.

    There is a larger problem with (mostly generic) drug companies not investing in maintaining their production equipment. I’m not saying that to defend non-generic manufacturers. The shortage of this medication is expected to ease because other companies have said they’ll step-up production.

    My view these days on judging companies in regard to cutting corners (like not properly maintaining their equipment) is to look at how much the companies executives are being paid. If the executives are reaping huge wasteful compensation packages while they are risking customer health, then we have a clear reflection of our modern “greed first” culture.

    February 24, 2012 at 13:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • madisoncnn

      Keith, thanks for reading. This article is a first-person blog post from a child fighting cancer, which it clearly states in the editor's note. – Madison Park, CNN writer/producer.

      February 24, 2012 at 13:48 | Report abuse |
    • cmh

      Thank you for this insightful reply!

      February 24, 2012 at 13:50 | Report abuse |
  17. KV

    Owen, I wish good luck to you and your fellow friends(patients) in hospital and will pray for you all.
    You are really amazing and a source of inspiration to others!!
    It seems FDA is working on it. http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm292658.htm
    I wish you will be able to get treatment soon.

    February 24, 2012 at 13:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Ax

    You're a brave and courageous man Owen. May you recover sooner than later and lead the life you want to.

    February 24, 2012 at 13:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. VaporLung

    And yet another reason cannabis prohibition needs to be lifted so that its (already proven) anti-carcinogenic properties can be studied even further.

    Oh yeah, but someone already pointed out that unless Big-Pharma can make $$$ off of it, it only cuts into their bottom line.
    Sad state of affairs when the bottom line is no longer humanity itself.

    February 24, 2012 at 13:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. MannyHM

    Methotrexate is not only for cancer or leukemia. It's very effective also for rheumatoid arthritis and other illnesses. It's an old drug which proved its effectiveness for a form of choriocarcinoma, a type of cancer of the uterus. This is a situation wherein we need a good and strong government to make sure that nobody creates shortage and benefits excessively through manipulation of the supply and demand. Through the NIH and other government funded or run research center that the drug manufacturers benefit from, the government should oversee available for the common good.

    February 24, 2012 at 13:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • David

      Manny, that type methotrexate isn't the issue in this case. High dose intrathecal methotrexate is delivered via IV over a 24-hour period. At that time, the patient has to receive a "rescue" drug – Leucovorin. As if the hd methotrexate is left in the person – they will, without question, die. Methotrexate in pill form (as used for arthritis) is a miniscule fraction of what this kid will receive. My son had T-cell ALL and has been in remission for 5 years. HD Methrotrexate is a HUGE part of the protocal he followed.

      The other issue with this shortage "causing delays" could be expounded upon as well. My son had 6 cycles of this drug, spaced on 3 week intervals during a portion of 108-week plan. A delay of 2 weeks in this part of the protocal isn't just "something you have to wait on", it is critical.

      Here's hoping Owen gets thru his entire protocol healthy.

      February 24, 2012 at 15:26 | Report abuse |
  21. David

    Owen, my little 3 year old niece is going through the same thing you're going through. I'm amazed at her courage & her will to live. She's an inspiration to everyone of us. I wish you only the best!
    LOVE!

    February 24, 2012 at 13:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. JohnnyJett

    I sent a request to the various makers of this drug to get this young man what he needs.Hopefully the read their email. Keep fighting Owen 🙂

    February 24, 2012 at 13:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Jorge

    Yet another reason that, if it mattered to save my own life or the life of a family member because I could not get the treatment needed in the U.S., I would not hesitate to travel to Cuba for it, and for Uncle Sam, I'd have a one-fingered salute when I recovered.

    February 24, 2012 at 13:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jorge

      By the way, I was born & raised in NYC, just in case there's a goober out there who wants to start on the immigrant thing.

      February 24, 2012 at 13:45 | Report abuse |
  24. Roto

    Maybe we need a government funded lab to start making generics that drug companies do see enough profit to justify their pursuit. I purely capitalistic system does not work in effectively supporting the needs of the people of a country. Therefore, the government should step in and help cheap needed medicines be made. Drug companies can then just concentrate on what makes them the most money as they always do. Don't want more government, well that just does not appear to be realistic here and many other cases as well. Reality vs fiction. I'd rather live in reality.

    February 24, 2012 at 13:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Justin

      Yes, government businesses always run more effectively

      February 24, 2012 at 14:31 | Report abuse |
  25. Melissa

    Owen, You are a Blessing and I wish you the very best. My 3 y/o daughter was diagnosed with ALL in May 2011 and she, too is on a methotrexate regiment. It is a scary thought, a drug that could save her life is in short supply. As a parent, it makes me furious that drug companies are looking at the bottom dollar instead of saving children's lives. God Bless you and your cause and I, too, am praying for all of the children and those that need this drug.

    February 24, 2012 at 13:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. tsm

    Owen, what a brave and wonderful young man you are...and I have no doubt that you will grow up to be a wonderful adult.

    February 24, 2012 at 13:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Curtis

    Its pretty sad that the United States government keeps the cure for cancer illegal.

    The cure for cancer is nothing more than pure 100% THC stripped off the Marijuana plant.

    The government knows this, the pharmaceutical industry knows this, and so do a lot of well educated people.

    Its just too bad profits are more important than peoples lives.

    February 24, 2012 at 14:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. God

    Way to go Owen, I know your wish will come true! And by the way, let me say you write very well.....you could give the journalists here on CNN a few lessons in grammar and story telling!

    February 24, 2012 at 14:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Pete

    Good luck, Owen.

    February 24, 2012 at 14:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Joe

    Beautiful kid (inside and out, apparently).

    Hoping, wishing, wanting, praying isn't going to help Owen. People have to care enough to get off their butts and actually *do* something. Question is: Who will? A lot of pointing at corporate execs, but the fact is *you* are no better.

    February 24, 2012 at 14:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Jon O. Boyd

    Keep up the fight Owen! You can overcome this. I had a brain tumor when I was 6, went through surgery, radiation, and Chemo. Now 20, I am living cancer free and happy as can be. Just keep pushing.

    February 24, 2012 at 14:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. fleur

    You keep fighting little brother. Don't let the big brand pharmas keep you, or your friends, down.

    February 24, 2012 at 14:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. taui_fern

    Thank you Owen and CNN for bringing this critical issue to light. As a leukemia patient, I understand that these drug shortages are life and death sentences for us. I'm a volunteer with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Advocacy group, and just sent a letter to my congressional reps to urge their support for the Preserving Access to Life-Saving Medications Act (S. 296 / H.R. 2245), which requires drug manufacturers to notify the FDA if they decide to discontinue production of cancer drugs, for whatever reason. Stay strong in the fight, you'll be in my thoughts and prayers. Much aloha xoxo

    February 24, 2012 at 14:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Bill

    Owen, my daughter was on methotrexate for her juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Her specialist has since stopped her dose. We do have a small amount left. If I can donate it, I would love to. It doesn't expire till the end of the year.

    February 24, 2012 at 14:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Amber

    Owen,

    I was once a kid with a fuzzy head. That was 14 years ago, and I'm still here. I beat my Hodgkins Disease and you can beat ALL!! I believe in you. 🙂

    February 24, 2012 at 14:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Terri

    My mother was given this medication to take for psoriasis. They did tell her that it was normally prescribed as a cancer drug but that they had found that it would treat the psoriasis as well. It was a tiny vial of liquid. If I remember correctly, she had to drink that once a week. And in all honesty...that was a miracle drug as a treatment for psoriasis. It went totally away as long as she was on it. But, it has one risk in particular. It causes liver damage. And even though the liver is a self healer of sorts, once the monthly blood tests she took that showed a liver problem, that was it. She can never use this again. I have no doubt, that if they would have had this childs story blown up as a picture and posted in all doctors offices across the nation, people like my mother would have immediately refused that treatment. I did not know until this minute that the uses by those with psoriasis was contributing to the shortage of what this and other children need to survive. i actually feel quite guilty now. And wish we could turn the clock back. Get this story into the news...get it into all doctors offices...get it out there so people will know what they are doing. I am so sorry Owen. I pray that you will keep fighting and opening the hearts and minds of others. You have certainly opened mine.

    February 24, 2012 at 14:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Doctor

    I bet you Cheney could find a full dose of this in about 17 minutes and 3 phone calls.

    February 24, 2012 at 14:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. phneutral

    A civilization is judged by how it treats the least of its members.

    February 24, 2012 at 14:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Doctor

      Denying itself universal healthcare tells a lot about a "civilization".
      Of course Owen might still not get his medication but again, what he gets another kids does not.

      February 24, 2012 at 14:30 | Report abuse |
    • Duke5343

      Just WAIT and see what the USG does to next generation with Universal Healthcare- kids like this will be allowed to die WAITING – NO Gov run system will work

      February 24, 2012 at 14:31 | Report abuse |
    • jaintn

      Duke5343, this child is WAITING and there is no universal healthcare in place at the moment. I guess what I'm saying is, are you actually going to blame Obama for this child not having access to the medication he needs. Really?!?!?

      February 24, 2012 at 14:40 | Report abuse |
    • Duke5343

      Jaintn- LIke most people you cannot READ- i said WAIT – what does that mean- DID I SAYObama's fault- NO so to be in step with most Libeals I WILL Blame it on BUSH

      February 24, 2012 at 14:54 | Report abuse |
    • Duke5343

      Sorry. I didn't mean all of that. I was acting unkind and selfish.

      February 24, 2012 at 15:01 | Report abuse |
  39. Tiffany

    What a beautiful, brave little boy. God bless you. Thank you so much for sharing this issue with the world Owen. Thank you for reminding me to put my life and my problems in perspective. I hope that the shortage of these life-saving drugs comes to an end, soon. Keep fighting the good fight. You have a big life ahead of you, little man.

    February 24, 2012 at 14:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Doctor

      I say he is a BIG man.

      February 24, 2012 at 14:31 | Report abuse |
  40. jaintn

    What a wonderful little boy. I hope he's going to survive this. That being said, I think pharmaceutical companies are the epitome of evil.

    February 24, 2012 at 14:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Esther

    Wow.

    February 24, 2012 at 14:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Rob

    I'm glad that Owen wants to get the word out. Not only for himself, but for all his "fuzzy headed" friends -as he calls them- and even those he doesn't know. Life has already taught him empathy and concern for others.

    His wish leads to many questions. All are difficult.

    What is behind the secret veil of the pharmaceutical industry? Is everything they do based on making the largest profits? Do they over produce some medications at the risk of underproducing others? Is that choice solely profit related? How do they prioritize what drugs they will make? Is there waste and inefficiencies that the government can help with? Do our own purchasing choices make a difference to those priorities? Why is something as important to life as pharmaceuticals handled as a profit venture? Does this really work? What input or influence does the medical community with drug manufacturers? What organizations report on the state of pharmaceuticals? Questions, questions, questions. I am nobody and have no power to make changes, but maybe if we keep asking questions of each other and each try and contemplate answers, solutions will be on the horizon.

    I believe Owen will beat this. I believe it will make the world a better place when he does.

    February 24, 2012 at 14:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Rob

    I was surprised when I googled Methotrexate to discover it is used for many ancillary things. I recommend everyone google it. Are all of these things higher priority than curing cancer in children? Are there other or equal alternatives to those other uses?

    February 24, 2012 at 14:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Renee

    My 5-year-old nephew Tyler also has ALL. He was diagnosed right before his 3rd birthday. He is suppsed to receive his last treatment of methotrexate today. His treatment was supposed to last until July. My heart is breaking knowing the consequences of this company's greed. Someone bigger has to step in because, apparently, the thought of all these children dying does nothing to the hearts of the individuals who run this company.

    February 24, 2012 at 14:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Jim

    Best Wishes, Owen.

    Live in peace and I hope all turns out well!

    February 24, 2012 at 14:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Keith

    You have cut funding to science and pushed chemical manufacturing out of the USA .... this is what happens!

    February 24, 2012 at 14:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Kristen Ford-Newell

    God Bless you, honey! I just know you will be fine!

    February 24, 2012 at 14:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Sue

    What can I do, as one person? I am willing to help.

    February 24, 2012 at 15:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. So sad

    It is very doubtful that there will ever be a complete "cure" of any cancer. How would the drug companies continue to make huge profits if they were not able to sell these drugs to manage or promise a cure to those afflicted by various cancers. The pharms will stay in business as long as people are sick. There is no interest in it for them to support a "cure".

    February 24, 2012 at 15:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Edward

    Chairman of the department of leukemia at MD Anderson Cancer Center Dr. Hagop Kantarjian send an email appeal to physicians in April 6th 2011 Leukemia news lettero to speak up for an action against the critical drug shortage in oncology and other fields. This was prompted by the refusal of the multiple news outlets to publish his op-ed piece on this topic over one year ago from a leader in the field!!! Only recently this story has become more significantly noted, thanks in part, to the patients like Owen. However,with the FDA hands to tied, and our congressional leaders' lack of compassion that prevents them to overcome their internal strife to devise a solution to the problem, many more patients will receive inadequate chemotherapy for CURABLE!! cancers, including childhood and adult cancer such as leukemia, lymphoma, breast cancer and many others.

    February 24, 2012 at 15:04 | Report abuse | Reply
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