- With Mayo Clinic nurse educator
Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.read biographyclose window
Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.Sheryl M. Ness
Sheryl Ness, R.N., O.C.N., is a nurse educator for the Cancer Education Program at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. She helps inform patients, families and caregivers about services and resources to help them through the cancer journey.
She has a master's degree in nursing from Augsburg College. In addition, she is an assistant professor of oncology at the College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, and is certified as a specialist in oncology nursing. Sheryl has worked for more than 20 years at Mayo Clinic as an educator. She has a keen interest in the importance of the quality of life and concerns of people living with cancer.
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Compassionate use of experimental drugs possible in cancer treatment
By Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.
Every week, new experimental drugs are in the news for cancer treatment. The process of studying and approving a new cancer drug from start to finish can take many years. In certain situations, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gives permission to companies to provide new experimental drugs to people outside of the clinical trial process. This is usually called compassionate use of a drug.
In order for you to receive the experimental drug with the compassionate use program, your doctor must contact the drug company as well as submit an application to the FDA. There are strict criteria that must be present in order for you to be approved.
- You have advanced cancer.
- You have used standard treatments and they have not worked for you.
- You aren't eligible for clinical trials using the experimental drug.
- You have no other treatment options available, and your doctor believes that you'd benefit from the experimental drug.
- The company that makes the drug agrees to provide it to you.
Keep in mind that even if you're approved to receive the experimental drug, you may experience unknown side effects and you may not benefit from treatment.
Also, not all drug companies agree to give access to experimental drugs through this process. Be informed about the costs — the drug company may charge you for the experimental drug and your insurance company may deny coverage of experimental drugs.
Another way to gain access to experimental treatments is to look for expanded access studies. To find studies, search for the term — expanded access studies — on ClinicalTrials.gov. For more information on the FDA process for compassionate use of drugs, visit the FDA website (www.fda.gov/Drugs/default.htm).blog index