AUSTIN (KXAN) - A Texas congressman is urging the California drugmaker, BioMarin, to allow Austin resident Andrea Sloan to have a potentially lifesaving experimental medicine as she battles Stage 3 ovarian cancer.
"Andrea's life is in your hands," U.S. Rep. John Culberson wrote in a letter to two top BioMarin executives on Wednesday. "Without BioMarin agreeing to a compassion use, Andrea (and her physician) are out of treatments options."
The Houston Republican told the drugmaker that he would assist the company in its dealings with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration if it would seek federal permission to provide BMN 673 to Sloan. The federal agency has already told Sloan she would be a good candidate for compassionate use of the drug,
Sloan, who has battled ovarian cancer for seven years, is the focus of an online campaign to allow her access to the drug, So far, BioMarin has resisted. The drug is in the testing phase that began before Sloan and her doctors at Houston's MD Anderson Cancer Center requested the medicine.
In his letter addressed to BioMarin CEO Jean-Jacques Bienaime and Dr. Henry Fuchs, the company's chief medical officer, Culberson pointed out the FDA cannot take formal steps to allow Sloan access to the drug unless BioMarin asks for permission.
BioMarin spokeswoman Debra Charlesworth told KXAN that because the drug is at "such an early stage that it is premature to implement any expanded use program."
"We need to make sure that what we’re putting out there is safe first," she said. "We have to go for the greater good. We are working towards the greatest good for the greatest number of patients.”
Since contracting the disease, Sloan has been through two full rounds of chemotherapy, five surgeries, a stem cell transplant, a bone marrow transplant, and went through her last round of radiation in February.
An online petition at Change.org has garnered more than 23,000 signatures of support over the last week. Earlier this week, state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, also sent a letter on Sloan's behalf seeking access to the drug,
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