We are now in day 8 of the U.S. government shutdown and cancer patients are yet another subset of the American population affected by the halt on Capitol Hill.
As long as the shutdown is in effect, the National Institute of Health will not accept new patients. That includes children with cancer.
Francis Collins, director of NIH, explains the situation.
At the National Institutes of Health, nearly three-quarters of the staff was furloughed. One result: director Francis Collins said about 200 patients who otherwise would be admitted to the NIH Clinical Center into clinical trials each week will be turned away. This includes about 30 children, most of them cancer patients, he said.
Individuals typically enroll in trials at the NIH Clinical Center “only when standard medical treatments have failed, and other treatment options are not available. As a result, they have no other alternatives.” It’s a place where patients undergo experimental therapies and researchers study rare diseases. The center typically sees 10,000 new patients each year.
As a result of congress’ inability to pass a budget for the country, patients who were hoping to receive treatment at the center will not get admitted.
The Clinical Center will remain open during the shutdown, keeping a little over 2,500 staff on hand for patient care.
The shutdown does not affect existing patients.
In terms of negotiations, both parties remain staunch in their demands regarding key legislation that could prevent denial of new patients by the Center.
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