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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. Samuel Wyndham

    Wishing you the best. My son had all and he 9s doing fine now. He turned 27 last october. I will be praying for you and if you want to talk My telephone # is 304-725-0909 or you can e-mail at ellenjustin@aol.com. Good luck and stay strong.

    February 24, 2012 at 15:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Clunky

      Unless you're joking, are you out of your mind putting your telephone number on a comment section?

      February 24, 2012 at 15:34 | Report abuse |
    • Liz

      Maybe once your kid's had cancer, the worst has already happened and it's worth posting a phone number if you can use it to encourage another child going through the same thing.

      February 25, 2012 at 09:14 | Report abuse |
  2. Rob

    My apologies for multiple posts, but let me be more specific. Why do we use Methotrexate injections for abortions when there are other alternatives? I am prochoice, however, Methotrexate sounds like a high demand cancer drug. Again, my apologies to Owen for 'going there', but it's an honest question to us all.

    February 24, 2012 at 15:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jon

      This is what happens with American capitalism infecting medicine. Your health is a commodity now and you're not a person to these drug companies; you're a profit margin. In the old days you reinvested in your company and kept it going so that you could make production more efficient, expand, and other things to improve it. Now they just cut corners. Like laying off a bunch of people and then overworking the rest. Skipping up on building maintenance. NPR carried the story about this too and it cited the FDA's report finding mold on the walls and rust falling into vials. It is children like Owen reaping what is sown by that.

      February 24, 2012 at 15:40 | Report abuse |
    • Jon

      Sorry about the general reply Rob, this one was actually meant for you. The Methotrexate used to induce abortions is most likely a different form. The one there's a shortage of is preservative-free which is probably formulated differently because it has to be given in high doses (i.e. the preservative can cause paralysis at those levels). Methotrexate can also be given orally in this case as well. This can only be done up to about 9 weeks of pregnancy and is often used to treat ectopic pregnancy which, according to the US National Library of Medicine, results in the fetus not surviving and not even developing.

      February 24, 2012 at 15:57 | Report abuse |
    • Heather

      The use of methotrexate in ending pregnancy is, as far as I know, only used in the case of a tubal pregnancy which I experienced. The reason it is used is that it breaks up the cells that have started growing in the tube and can save the tube if caught early enough without surgery which carries other risks. Methotrexate is administered in one shot, one time so not a huge amount as in the treatment of cancer.
      The article states that methotrexate in the form used to treat ALL is in critical supply – I don't know if this is the same form used to treat tubal pregnancies and I doubt you do either.
      Lastly, I did not have an abortion. I would never ever end the life of a baby I created. Tubal pregnancies cannot be saved. The early stage fetus can't get the nutrients it needs in the tube without a yolk sak (which eventually turns in to the placenta) and if left untreated, the mother could have a ruptured tube and bleed to death (although w/ modern medicine it is very rare that it gets to this extreme).
      oh – and now really lastly – God bless this boy – what a brave young man to face all of this and how admirable that he is fighting not only for himself but for all those who need the drug to live.

      February 24, 2012 at 16:04 | Report abuse |
    • Larry

      Great report Rob. I commend you for making this noticed. I found out about it myself last week and have been posting it every where I can. Like you I don't want to get involved with other peoples business. But, to find out we are making a drug that was only approved by executive order in 1993 for the purpose of Ab***** is weird. LSS took me off because they don't want it known. I have been asking if there are stock piles of Methotrexate in the Ab***** clinics. I have notified my congressman about this as well. What are we suppose to do treat our kids in "Back Alley's." My child has 1 year left after the 2 and half years done.

      February 24, 2012 at 19:20 | Report abuse |
    • Larry

      Methotrexate and misoprostol use is a two-step method. It's done with pills or Liquid form of Methotrexate

      February 24, 2012 at 19:34 | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Methotrexate is obviously a poison for getting rid of something that is unwanted, like children. You hit the nail on the head. What's really going on is that people are suing the drug makers for using that garbage to begin with. Here's a link http://fdadrugs.legalview.com/legal-issue/methotrexate/. You can't trust doctors or pharmaceuticals, they are poisoners. There is no shortage of this drug, people are just figuring out why we hung doctors in Germany...

      February 24, 2012 at 21:23 | Report abuse |
    • Larry

      Jon, Ben Venue Labs was given the EPA award which was handed to them by Ted Strickland. This was 3 years ago. The place didn't fall apart that fast. It has nothing to do with money. This product is so inexpensive to make. The only difference between Preservative and Preservative-Free Methotrexate is that the Preservative has "Benzyl Alcohol' which the latter doesn't. New drugs are a lot of money because of the R & D that was put up to develop the drug. After the Patent runs out than the generics come out. Look at your flat screen 10 years ago. They cost $8,000 now you can get one for $1,000. You can't have the mindset that if you just take a few people in a factory to make something it's going to be the best thing. We encourage people to make things by rewarding them. How come Castro hasn't cured cancer.

      February 25, 2012 at 01:34 | Report abuse |
  3. fadeinlight

    Strange how this article neglects to mention that many of the drug shortages we face are due to limitations imposed by the FDA on how much of a certain drug a company is allowed to produce annually. I don't know if that's the case with this drug, but I know it's the case with one that I have trouble procuring oftentimes. But hey–it's CNN. Wouldn't want to reflect badly on the government.

    February 24, 2012 at 15:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cedar Rapids

      One of the reasons for this drug shortage is the closing of one of the factories making it due to their cutting corners with maintanence of their machines leading to mold on the equipment and even incidents of rust falling into vials.
      But hey, you go on blaming CNN for keeping quiet about it being the government's fault.

      February 24, 2012 at 15:57 | Report abuse |
  4. Matt

    I wish this kid the best - sounds like he has a tough road ahead, so great to hear he is taking everything on with a positive outlook.

    February 24, 2012 at 15:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. lltricia

    Thank you for speaking on behalf of my daughter, who has ALL and is 4. God Bless You and Your Family - and thank you for such a selfless wish. You are a very brave young man. My prayers are for you and all pediatric cancer families.

    February 24, 2012 at 15:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. paz

    How very brave of you. How very wise to be able to understand how powerful your wish could be. I wish that we lived in a world that a twelve year old did not have to learn about the brutality of capitalism. However twelve-year-olds all over the world are impacted, and in devastating ways, by a "markets" that are considered more valuable than lives, and corporations that are much more powerful than everyday people. I do hope your journey to full health is a swift one.

    February 24, 2012 at 15:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Dana

    Hey kid, keep on fighting, you're doing a great job!

    February 24, 2012 at 15:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mannou

      Cancer is an evil disease to watch. It obbred me of my dad just over a yaer ago and I really hate to see anyone have to say goodbye to someone they love b/c of it.V

      March 5, 2012 at 23:23 | Report abuse |
  8. BethTX

    We have a shortage of a critical drug that could save a child's life and yet can afford to pay some braindead actor $20 million to play pretend. Nice.

    February 24, 2012 at 15:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. edofmtl

    If this was really written by Owen McMasters (12 years old) it is amazing. He really hit his feelings directly and expressed them in a way all could understand. What a brave child, what a warrior for life. He inspires me in my efforts with cancer.

    February 24, 2012 at 15:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Marty

    Dear Owen, You are like so many of the children I have met and know who are facing this hated disease – incredibly brave and strong. My grandson is 6 and is in his second year of treatment for ALL. He too is in the high risk group but is doing well so far. We are hoping and praying that when he goes in in April for treatment they will have the Metholtrexate in needs. I am like so many people who are angry and upset that our children are the ones who are most affected. But then – children's cancer research also gets the least amount of money from all agencies, with the exception of St. Baldrick's.
    Did you know that every single day 46 families hear those words "your child has cancer"? God bless you and keep you strong – God lift up his healing hands and make you well.

    February 24, 2012 at 15:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. ksheets

    I saw this on tv a few weeks ago and it sickens me that the drug companies can't make their billions and billions off from generic drugs so they won't make them. This is where the govt needs to step up and say enough is enough. These drug companies gouge us to death. There has to be some kind of regulation so this doesn't happen again.

    February 24, 2012 at 15:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. David

    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. Thankfully he is 5 years in remission and got through his entire treatment protocol. Owen, we're hoping the same for you.

    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. A pediatric ALL protocol is extremely specific regarding drug doses, timing of the doses and numbers of treatments. These kids do not have the luxury of accepting "oh, it's ok. We'll take care of it in a couple weeks".

    Really hoping this situation can be remedied in some manner before kids are lost simply because they can't get access to a key part of their treatment protocol. HD Methotrexate cycles are nightmarish. They are no fun. But it is one of the critical components in ALL programs. The druig works. So well in fact it was added not long ago to B Cell ALL protocols (which I deduce Owen has based on his 3 1/2 year treatment), previously it was part of T cell ALL plans and only used for B Cell kids after a relapse.

    Hope your clinic gets the drugs Owen. And you keep fighting. Our son was 10 at diagnosis and is now back on the ice playing hockey again.

    February 24, 2012 at 15:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Debbie

    God bless you Owen! You are a champ!!

    February 24, 2012 at 15:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Erin

    Go, Owen! Your story is so powerful – thank you for sharing it.

    February 24, 2012 at 15:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Dan Bednarik

    In the 21st century, no less. Alvin Toffler was right, just some 25 years too premature.

    February 24, 2012 at 15:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Amber Fergason

    Having had to deal with cancer drug shortage battles myself for a spouse...its hugely disgusting to me that children are made to wait so the drug companies can get out of their fog (thats better than what I was originally going to post) and make the drugs necessary...no they are not the drug companies top money makers...but why make children die...part of your business has to be about the patient and not the bottom line...where are the "private businesses and charities" that some people say will care for patients in times of distress....I see noone stepping in to help him...who can make drug companies make drugs people need...noone...this shows the cracks in our country's medical system...if anyone has BTDT and would like to offer me a reasonable explanation of why this is acceptable in the USA, I would like to know.

    February 24, 2012 at 15:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Denver

      Because you lot are mostly opposed to a national health system. THAT'S WHY! You don't see the UK complaining about this do you?

      February 24, 2012 at 22:18 | Report abuse |
    • Liz

      @Denver, Does the UK have the freedom of speech you're using to insult another commenter for political views that she hasn't even stated? Owen, thanks for raising attention for this issue. I'm sure you've given some hope to every cancer patient who has heard of this situation. Keep entertaining your doctors (but enough with the cursing, ha). I look forward to one day reading of the great work you're doing in whatever career you choose as an adult.

      February 25, 2012 at 09:13 | Report abuse |
    • Lynz

      Amber Fergason, Ben Venue was making liquid methotrexate until the FDA shut down their operations and it is unclear why, some failed regulation, which may have had nothing to do with the purity, or efficacy of their product, the company made whatever changes the FDA demanded and have been waiting for the FDA to approve whatever change they made so they could ship the liquid methotrexate.

      February 26, 2012 at 09:24 | Report abuse |
  17. Nancy

    I truly hope you do well. I'm sorry that at you have to experience this. Your story made me angry at the drug companies, I wish there was more that I could do. God bless

    February 24, 2012 at 16:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lynz

      You should be angry at Lawyers that have run many drug companies out of the U.S. and at the FDA . The drug company in question has been waiting for the FDA to allow shipments from their facility.

      February 26, 2012 at 09:28 | Report abuse |
    • SurRy

      The drug companies did not leave the US due to lawyers. They left because they can pay slave wages, no benefits and force workers to work in deplorable conditions in countries without labor laws (India, etc...). Wake up.

      February 26, 2012 at 22:10 | Report abuse |
    • Omnia

      You really have a way or words, and tankhs for sharing the beautiful photos as well. I think my reaction was the same this is methotrexate?Your MTX story is so similar to mine, switching my dosage day to Saturday, basically writing off the weekend and coming back to life Sunday evening. Nausea and sensitivity to hear (once, even standing around a campfire sent me reeling). After a year I switched to injectable MTX, and when my side-effects did not improve I ended taking myself off it. I do like how you are doing everything possible to make it work for you, and I wish you the best. I've learned a lot from reading this post, and you continue to inspire.

      March 3, 2012 at 20:05 | Report abuse |
  18. Jadine

    I take methotrexate for rheumatoid arthritis and I wish I didn't because then there would be more for kids like Owen.

    February 24, 2012 at 16:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • onc doc

      Don't feel badly Jadine. I assume you take oral MTX which we did not (at least where I work) ever had a shortage. Also the primary shortage was in the preservative-free IV form which we need for the large doses these kids get, we had some that contained preservative that was safe in small doses. Hope your RA is under control! best

      February 24, 2012 at 16:52 | Report abuse |
    • Lynz

      Jadine, he takes the liquid form, not the pills. It is not a shortage of the ingredients that make methotrexate.
      The FDA shut down operations at a plant that makes the liquid form, and the company has been waiting for the FDA to approve the operations changes and allow shipments.

      February 26, 2012 at 09:17 | Report abuse |
  19. Gina Priddy

    Great job Owen, Beth and Kelly! Keep posting and keep on fighting! We are praying for you!

    February 24, 2012 at 16:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. light seeker

    I truly hope you receive what you need to have a safe and happy life. I will keep meditating on your behave. Peace be with you.

    February 24, 2012 at 17:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Kent in Dallas TX

    People need to quit blaming & demonizing the big phamaceutical companies. When the government shuts the factories down because of "quality issues" the companies can't make the drugs & the sick people don't get what they need.

    If a big drug company gets tired of people like Omama beating them up, the company quit making the drugs & start making something else.

    If stockholders get tired of it, they could take all their money out & let the big drug companies shut down.

    Then noone would have to worry about the greedy investors & the mean, nasty executives making so money by ripping the consumers.

    If all big drug companies shut down & the executives use all their money to retire in Acapulco, that solve everone's problems.

    I think that government ough to raise their taxes so high & make so many regulations that they all go out of bussines.
    Well... maybe, we should keep all the drug companies, insurance companies & hospital chains, as imperfect as they are, so that sweet, kids like Owen will have a chance to live & grow up.

    February 24, 2012 at 17:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Larry

      Kent your absolutely right. Ben Venue Labs won the EPA award and Governor handing it to them 3 years ago. All for their outstanding facility. All of a sudden it's a dump? Look up Methotrexate-Misoprostol. It's not my business but isn't it sad there's enough for that purpose. It's done with pill or liquid Methotrexate. So, don't let anyone fool you. My child has a year left of chemo and has a "LP" with Methotrexate late next month. Pass this information around as much as you can.

      February 24, 2012 at 19:52 | Report abuse |
    • Me

      Ken:

      The FDA exists due to a need for regulation within an industry that had no intention of regulating itself. Have you ever heard of patent medications?

      February 25, 2012 at 05:25 | Report abuse |
    • Lynz

      Exactly, the first group to blame is NOT the drug companies but AMBULANCE CHASING LAWYERS who have already either litigated companies out of business or run them out of the country.

      February 26, 2012 at 09:05 | Report abuse |
  22. jj

    Hope he gets his medicine soon. I had an experience where the pharmacy did not have my medicine. Very frightening that there is no safety net.

    February 24, 2012 at 18:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. nicholasgram

    I really do feel for the child and his family.Hope all gets better soon.
    I am also one of those people who bellieves there is a cure.That the pharmacuetical companies pay whoever found the cure to shut up.
    Look at how many companies would be put out of business.Look at how many of these overpaid CEO's would not get any more pay.

    February 24, 2012 at 19:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • nishali78

      I'm with you on that one. I am pretty sure there are a lot of cures out there.

      February 26, 2012 at 08:45 | Report abuse |
  24. Jay

    You are very brave and I will pray for you and all other sick kids. My 8 years old son had cancer and went through chemo and radiation treatment last year. The treatment is hard and long by itself and to think you can't get the drugs to continue the treatment on schedule does not make it any easier. Keep fighting and know that there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel...

    February 24, 2012 at 20:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Madi

    Wow. You are so brave. Seriously... Wow. 🙂 It is so sad that this happens to people, but you are just the hope people need! And you still look awesome!! XD

    February 24, 2012 at 21:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Deborah

    I have RA and I have used methotrexate for a long time, but I would give my dosage up to any child that needs it more than me!! Thanks Dr Gupta for letting the world know what the problems are! Owen I will be praying for you and your wishes!

    February 24, 2012 at 21:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Denver

    "can we take it from another country?" typical American lingo. It's a shame this kid has to suffer the sins from the people running the "richest and most powerful country in the world"!

    February 24, 2012 at 22:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lynz

      Denver, the American people are by far the most generous people in the world. We have sent more food, medicine, built more shelters, provided more clean drinking water, responded to more disasters in the world with help than any other country in the world combined, those are truths that you apparently are ignorant of.

      February 26, 2012 at 08:59 | Report abuse |
    • t3chsupport

      That's right, we can help everyone but ourselves, don't let anyone doubt that!

      February 26, 2012 at 14:44 | Report abuse |
  28. Stacey

    I am SO VERY PROUD of this kid & his desire to use his MAKE A WISH to help save other kid's lives. My daughter is about the same age with the same protocol for high risk A.L.L. She has been fighting for years & kicking cancer's butt too!! My daughter just went through a round of high doses of methotrexate after the end of the trial study showing it was a better protocol to follow. I sure hope the drug companies were made aware of that & listened that the demand was going to be much higher or are more of our children getting cancer? Any way you look at it, Methotrexate has been around effectively treating cancer since the 1940's & should never be low in stock! This is outrageous. My daughter is treated with this every few weeks & it is saving her life. My HATS OFF TO THIS YOUNG BOY....PLEASE SHARE HIS MAKE A WISH AROUND THE GLOBE & MAKE THEM LISTEN TO HIM FOR MY LITTLE GIRL AND ALL THE KIDS FIGHTING FOR THEIR LIVES AGAINST CANCER FOR YEARS!!

    February 24, 2012 at 22:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Stacey

    I am SO PROUD of this kid & his desire to use his MAKE A WISH to help save other kid's lives. My daughter is about the same age with the same protocol for high risk A.L.L & kicking cancer's butt too the past few years! She ust went through a round of high doses of methotrexate after the end of the trial study showing it was a better protocol to follow. I sure hope the drug companies were made aware of that & listened that the demand was going to be much higher or are more of our children getting cancer? Any way you look at it, Methotrexate has been around effectively treating cancer since the 1940's & should never be low in stock! This is outrageous. My daughter is treated with this every few weeks & it is saving her life. My HATS OFF TO THIS YOUNG BOY....PLEASE SHARE HIS MAKE A WISH AROUND THE GLOBE & MAKE THEM LISTEN TO HIM FOR MY LITTLE GIRL AND ALL THE KIDS FIGHTING FOR THEIR LIVES AGAINST CANCER FOR YEARS!!

    February 24, 2012 at 22:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Apollo B

    My prayers for you and all the children who need this medication & the hope it brings to a path of healing. You are indeed an inspiration to us all regardless of sickness or not. Your compassion for other young patients is highly admirable which speaks of the goodness of your soul. God bless you, Owen.

    February 25, 2012 at 06:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Dina King

    Owen, keep up the good work. What a great wish!

    February 25, 2012 at 08:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Kelly McMasters

    Go to the Owen's Wish Facebook page to show your support.

    February 25, 2012 at 11:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Rose

    Dear Owen, You are an inspiration for your request to the Make A Wish Foundation to help obtain more production of the Methotrexate needed for ALL cancer patients who need it. It's so very unselfish of you to not request a trip to Walt Disney or XBOX 360 or something frivilous. I sure hope the drug companies will honor your noble request. Best of luck to you! I hope a cure is given to you & you live to be a happy, old man of 100 years.

    February 25, 2012 at 15:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Nicole Anthony

    My son was diagnosed with Infant ALL when he was 5 wks old. His protocol required several rounds of this medication over a year. He had to stop getting it because he developed neurotoxicity. Thank God his treatment was still successful without it. Treatment is difficult and there are a lot of adjustments that have to be made throughout. Just know that my son survived and went into remission without continuing this particular drug. God bless you and your family!

    February 25, 2012 at 16:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Bob

    Am I the only one who refuses to believe that a 12-year-old actually wrote this?

    February 25, 2012 at 20:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Stacey

      It sounds very close to a story my 12 yr old girl recently wrote for her middle school THON kick off, about her Leukemia, that she is currently battling. She had a ton more complications, but is amazingly positive & mature about it. I'm sure his parents helped a bit, but you'd be shocked at the outlook on life kids get when taken to the depths of hell & back. They are stronger than our U.S. special forces & become more compassionate than imaginable.

      February 25, 2012 at 21:04 | Report abuse |
    • Ellen

      Why is it so difficult to believe that a 12 year old can write well? I was certainly able to do so at that age as were my siblings and many of our friends.

      Owen demonstrates a level of maturity that should be applauded. His abilityand willingness to discuss his feeling in a public forum is much appreciated

      February 27, 2012 at 06:23 | Report abuse |
  36. Awakened

    Hi Owen: You look so handsome, healthy and happy despite all the stress of this decease. Hang in there, dude, the god-energy you have will carry you far. You've added to the "community wood-pile" with this wish, I'm most impressed!

    February 26, 2012 at 02:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Mitchell Mansfield

    This in regard to Cancer Drugs being in short supply, "Why doesn't CNN report on the proven methods of curing Cancer that are Alternative Cures where the medical evidence says that they have a 97% cure rate instead of the 3% by the medical establishment and Chemo Therapy? The Cancer Tutor online list at least 8 Alternatives that Cure cancer according to the patients who are now Cancer Free. Please check these out.

    February 26, 2012 at 07:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Rick Santorum

    Let Darwin do his work, and let the little tardlets die.

    February 26, 2012 at 08:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Michelle

      troll

      February 26, 2012 at 11:22 | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      Wow...you are seriously sad.

      February 26, 2012 at 21:58 | Report abuse |
  39. sunnyday

    Methotrexate is prescribed all the time to people with rheumatoid arthritis and other bone conditions. If I was this mom, I'd be knocking on every single door within every retirement community asking the elderly if I could buy their methotrexate off them.

    February 26, 2012 at 10:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Michelle

    I'm curious, what steps can the public take to help this boy and his family?

    February 26, 2012 at 11:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Julie Peterson

    Lives depend on this drug and yet there is only ONE place that makes it? Also, where are the stockpiles so that if there IS a problem where the FDA shuts down the ONE facility that makes it, people won't DIE in the meanwhile? It's not logical and an offense to humanity. Issues that could cause people to DIE need to be addressed immediately!

    February 26, 2012 at 13:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. t3chsupport

    Ah, capitalism. Isn't it lovely? If someone decides to stop making a drug, they can stop making that drug... and make it so no one else can make it, either. It's not about saving lives, it's about making sure that only one company can profit from saving those lives. If there's no profit, they don't care about the lives. Better that someone should die than another company make a drug that they used to make. Sickening.

    Can you imagine what would have happened if the man who had discovered the polio vaccine had decided to patent it, and ration out who gets it and who does not? We certainly wouldn't have pwned polio like we did, it would still be going around rampant.

    This kid is smart. Not only can you tell by his writing, but that he knows that the only way to get people to stand up and make the stuff is by getting the public to hold them accountable. I don't know if it will work, because again, the drug companies really don't care about anything. It's not like people can exactly boycott their services. Keep at it, kiddo. Even if the drug companies can't be persuaded, we still need to show the government and the people how wrong this all is before anyone will ever think of changing it. People will go on and on about 'big government' getting in the way of corporations doing business, but saving the lives of children is far more important than any bonus they want to give themselves, and the government needs to step in and do something about these patent laws that allow the sick and vulnerable to slip through the cracks just because of the greed of a few.

    February 26, 2012 at 14:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Sam

    I feel I need to respond to the comment string. Methotrexate is a generic drug. There is no patent protecting the innovator. Anybody could make it and market it. They just have to get pass the FDA. But methotrexate is such a low profit drug that there is no longer an incentive to go through the trouble. Drug manufacturing is very difficult, especially, in terms of the safety and quality requirements of the FDA. Hey, you want those drugs to be the very best. But in the case of some drugs, the price have gone down so much that it is a burden to drug companies when they could use their very expensive facilities to make a more profitable drug. So only a few manufacturers make methotrexate and manage to eck out some profits. Ben Venue is one of them and they had some quality issues so the FDA shut them down. One other manufacturer managed to increase their capacity and so the shortage was alleviated. But drug shortages will always be there because a company has to be profitable to survive. If you actually take the time to look at the list of drugs in shortage, they are mostly generic drugs – and low profit drugs at that. There are not a lot of manufacturers, maybe 1 or 2 for a lot of them and if they had problems, there goes the supply. The FDA can in fact ask some companies to make drugs that are in short supply even if those companies stand to lose money on them. But essential drugs still have to be made. We live in a capitalist society. And everybody wants to get paid their fair wages. Be thankful that there are actually some drug manufacturers who don't mind very low profits for some of the things they make. I am pretty certain that if you have a job that hardly pay you for your hard work, you will be looking for another one that pays you better. Just like most companies and everybody else.

    February 26, 2012 at 18:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Leslie

      Ok – I get the whole thing about these being generic drugs with very little profit and the fact that it's not inexpensive to make them. It is in fact difficult and exacting to meet the FDA requirements. But something seems off here. If there is a demand for the meds that is not being met it seems that the price of the drugs is being kept unrealisticly low. What is holding the price down in the face of shortages? Capitalism would dictate that this kind if supply squeeze would push prices up. Is it insurance reimbursement that is holding these prices down? Just saying – something is not working correctly in the market here.

      February 27, 2012 at 13:43 | Report abuse |
  44. Michelle

    Okay understood, capitalist society....blah blah blah (I really do get it!) ....I ask the question again WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP THIS BOY AND HIS FAMILY?

    February 26, 2012 at 19:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Paul

      @ Michelle...as Owen pointed out, this issue is much greater than just him and his family. There must be countless children in the country that are in the same situation. Maybe Sanjay Gupta would have suggestions on how people could help. I missed the show so maybe he already discussed this.

      February 26, 2012 at 21:51 | Report abuse |
  45. Michelle

    Obviously time is not on our side, suggestions? boycotts? places to donate? anything? anyone?

    February 26, 2012 at 19:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sam

      Michelle, one answer is to amend the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003. Please do a search and see it's unintended consequences. Call your member of the House of Representative. Allow capitalism to work on generic oncology drugs. A lot of drugs cannot be stockpiled (especially injectable oncology drugs – they expire) so create an incentive for drug manufacturers to produce a steady supply.

      February 27, 2012 at 10:05 | Report abuse |
  46. Michelle

    Unacceptable....how long does it take for some answers? <3

    February 26, 2012 at 19:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Paul

    This kid is someones son, someones best friend.... people that argue a free-market, money-driven society is the way to go need to read this piece. Sometimes government intervention is not a bad thing. There is more to life than money and profit. We need a balance of a free-market society and a society that cares for our fellow citizens. I suspect when this kid grows up he is destined for greatness. Godbless.

    February 26, 2012 at 21:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. thalakos

    It drives me nuts that the Post Office is forced to prefund retirement healthcare benefits for an absurd amount of time basically causing joblosses. Yet congress WON'T make these multibillion dollar pharm companies keep drugs that work in production by any means necessary. And don't say they can't cuz the correct word is won't. the government regulates all sorts of private companies, and yes the Postal Service is considered a private company, but when it comes to Big Pharm they pretend their hands r tied. which really translates out to, their pockets r lined. maybe not directly with briefcases of cash but via investment. any person in public office should not be allowed to hold stock in any publicly traded stock or commodity. u think oil would be as big of an issue if all these guys didn't have a huge investment in it? can you find me one person in congress thats not invested in oil or big pharm?

    February 27, 2012 at 03:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. realistic

    We can blame the drug companies, but drug companies are companies and companies do what is most profitable for them. That is the very definition of capitalism. If we want companies to serve the people we need government incentives and regulations. We can't have too many incentives or regulations and we can't have too few. This requires a working government that can look at issues objectively. In short, we need to vote out partisan extremists and get a government that work thing out.

    February 27, 2012 at 07:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Browe

    Owen,
    Wishing you all God's blessings and healing. You're a very brave, intelligent and wise young man. Hang in there–you're so brave and I know you'll pull through this. You look a lot like your Dad who just happened to help save my life about 9 years ago by removing a melanoma I had. God's blessings to you and your entire family. Will be praying for your healing, strength and peace daily!

    February 27, 2012 at 20:55 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.