Started by Jamie Reno (@jamiereno) · Nov 25, 2013

Cancer Patient Nick Auden Dies While Fighting Drug Companies for Treatment

Nick Auden photo

Nick Auden

I just received some heartbreaking news: Nick Auden, the focus of the worldwide Save Locky’s Dad campaign which I wrote about here at CancerConnect last month, has died as a result of stage IV melanoma.

The 41-year-old husband and father of three young children had been bravely campaigning for access to a clinical trial of anti-PD-1, a treatment currently being tested by pharmaceutical companies Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS).

Nick's doctors concluded that this treatment was his last and only chance to survive. But Nick could not convince either drug company to give him the drug.

Two weeks ago, as the disease progressed and Nick failed to gain access to the potentially lifesaving drug, he flew to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston with his wife Amy for a last-ditch, experimental treatment (TIL Therapy) that they hoped would stave off the cancer’s progress until he got anti-PD-1.

But it was sadly too late. Nick was admitted to intensive care a week ago during the course of the treatment. He was then flown to his Denver home on Tuesday via air ambulance to spend a last, precious few days with his three beloved children, Locky, 7, Hayley, 5, and Evan, 1.

He died on Friday, November 22. The great tragedy, of course, is that this did not have to happen.

Amy told me last night, "We were airlifted back to Denver mid last week. We got home in time so the kids could see him. It is a tragedy and I am barely coming to terms with it. Thank you and CancerConnect for all your wonderful support."

I only wish I could have done more somehow.

More than half a million people worldwide signed the change.org petition pleading with Merck and BMS to give Nick the drug. The campaign attracted support from cancer experts, politicians, the Federal Drug Administration, celebrities and the general public around the world.

It is Amy's fervent hope that Nick’s campaign can make a difference in the future for others in this heartbreaking position. I share that hope. This was, and is, a very important campaign for all cancer patients and their loved ones.

Amy says the law must change to compel drug companies to provide compassionate access to potentially lifesaving medicines in late phase trials.

While the Auden family was not successful in convincing either Merck or BMS to provide anti-PD-1, Amy concludes poignantly, "I sincerely hope that the campaign is a catalyst for much needed change in the attitude of all large pharmaceutical companies with potentially lifesaving drugs."

Amy Auden blog Bristol-Myers Squibb CancerConnect clinical trial Jamie Reno MD Anderson Melanoma Merck Nick Auden PD-1 Save Locky's Dad

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Micjoe (@micjoe) · Nov 25, 2013 · #

Your story and the picture of Nick is so touching and frustrating at the same time. To think there was a chance to save this young man in his final stage, and not be able to access it would be enough to drive a family crazy. This is a great forum to spread the word and continue to apply pressure to all the pharmaceutical companies to review their policies and their hearts. Thank you for keeping us aware and being such a strong advocate for all patients.

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Jamie Reno (@jamiereno) · Nov 25, 2013 · #

Thanks very much. Nick was truiy an inspiration to me, and so is his family. I believe this is a story of which all cancer patients and their loved ones should be aware. Because it could happen to any of us.

helen (@helenmkblower) · Nov 26, 2013 · #

Hi, there is a lot of movement here in the UK, regarding this , Europe is taking steps to allow pharma's the freedom to give trial drugs for many conditions providing they are in later stage studies, especially for cases where prognosis is poor, this is what I have read, the main problems have been because of litigation, lets hope it is carried through.
God bless Helen

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Jamie Reno (@jamiereno) · Nov 26, 2013 · #

Thanks very much, Helen, this is very interesting. Please tell me more about what is happening on this in Europe. Can you elaborate a little bit?

helen (@helenmkblower) · Nov 27, 2013 · #

Hi Jamie, all I can tell you is what I have read and the activity regards life threatening diseases apart from cancer, the pharma's are under pressure to release stats for fast tracking info, I can say that very much has been in question, our UK parliament had a bill presented for cancer treatments to be freed for trials, but sadly it was thrown out, however Europe is working on this already, as I said its what I have read.
God bless Helen

sharon (@sharonp) · Nov 25, 2013 · #

This is really, really tragic news. Nick Auden's death was Murder-by-Bigpharma! They denied him the one drug that may have saved his life. Our medical lives are in the hands of corporate boards.

So sad.

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Jamie Reno (@jamiereno) · Nov 25, 2013 · #

Thanks Sharon, I agree. Drug companies do many great things. I am alive because of a clinical trial of a then-unapproved drug. But in Nick's case, the drug companies are simply and obviously on the wrong side. They could have saved this good man, and they did not.

sharon (@sharonp) · Nov 26, 2013 · #

I am very very happy for you and for* all t*hose who do get treatment with
drugs that save their lives. Unfortunately - who gets them and who does not
is far too arbitrary. We need a definitive plan that *enables* patients and
their doctors to make the decision and not have to go through what Nick and
his family experienced. The outcome was so tragic. Heartbreaking.

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gracee (@gracee) · Nov 25, 2013 · #

I hope this story touches BIG PHARMA in a way that will make them re-access their policies. A life is gone. A family that loved him & needed him is gone .... I hope through venues like this we can all continue to voice and fight for what is right and fair!

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Jamie Reno (@jamiereno) · Nov 25, 2013 · #

Thanks, Gracee, I very much agree. It's such a NO BRAINER!

1954 (@1954) · Nov 25, 2013 · #

Just an incredibly sad story. Thanks for reporting it, Jamie -- as angry and frustrated as you feel after reading it, it's such an important reminder that these heartless companies have to start treating patients with some semblance of humanity. Young children perhaps unnecessarily losing their father, what a proud legacy for these corporate killers.

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Jamie Reno (@jamiereno) · Nov 25, 2013 · #

So well said, thanks 1954.

carol (@tharootunian) · Nov 26, 2013 · #

Thank you Jamie,
It's a broken system. How is this even possible? Why isn't this considered murder? They have the power to choose and they choose profit over giving people a chance. It's barbaric and criminal and they have been getting away with it for decades.
I wish we could rise up and take this system down!

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helen (@helenmkblower) · Nov 27, 2013 · #

Hi carol, I agree with you, as far as the peoples health is concerned its like a game of playing the stock exchange, I have watched over the years drugs built up to look like cures, the stocks go up, buying a selling goes on, then some are buried or withdrawn, and return later, tailored with old drugs, all for profit not for people.
God bless Helen

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belinda heisler (@bheisler) · Nov 26, 2013 · #

shat is so frustrating is people like dick chenny have the money and influence to get total access to care-who gets a heart transplant at his age? people who are famous and have money-I don't care what anyone says-I am a retired nurse and famous and money counts over regular people. I have been fighting insurance companies since my son was born in 1986-when he was born with a birth defect-it has only gotten worse!

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