Government shutdown forces clinical trial patients to wait
By Val Willingham, CNN
October 2, 2013 — Updated 1609 GMT (0009 HKT)
- About 200 patients who start NIH clinical trials weekly must wait until shutdown ends
- Of those, about 30 patients are children, and about 10 of them are cancer patients
- About three-fourths of NIH’s employees — 14,700 people — have been furloughed
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(CNN) — Every week, hundreds of patients, including children with cancer, are admitted to new clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health.
But because of the government shutdown, newly registered patients are being put on hold until the government resumes operation.
“Due to the lapse in government funding … transactions submitted via the web site may not be processed, and the agency may not be able to respond to inquiries until appropriations are enacted,” a message on the top of the NIH website states.
Every week, about 200 new patients come to the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. As of Tuesday, patients are being told they will have to wait until the government starts up again to begin their trials, according to NIH spokesman John Burklow.
“In fact, six new studies would have started this week that we are deferring,” Burklow said.
Of that 200, approximately 30 are children, he said, and about 10 of those children are cancer patients.
Burklow did note that participants who are already in studies are still being treated and will continue with their trials. Burklow also said patients in desperate need of treatment will be handled differently and will more than likely be seen by physicians or nurses at the NIH Clinical Center.
About 75% of NIH’s employees — or about 14,700 people — have been furloughed.
Researchers at other institutions who have received NIH grants are not affected by the government shutdown. But the agency is not accepting any new grant applications.
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