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Published: Saturday, 2/23/2002

Another chance for Cissi

The good news is that the Medical College of Ohio never intended to let 62-year-old Cissi Jackson's cancer go untreated after she had made a huge improvement with an experimental drug called H11, only to suffer a reversal when the drug was withdrawn.

Equally happy news is that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was relatively quick to approve her continued use of the medicine, whose dose was refined thanks to the seriously ill people, including Mrs. Jackson, who volunteered to test it.

The drug made her tumors shrink, though it did not prove effective for the others in the research group. Because the drug, to be provided free by its manufacturer, Viventia Biotech Inc. of Toronto, is still a distance from FDA approval, the hospital's Institutional Review Board approved administering it not as a matter of research, but for reasons of compassion.

MCO is also trying to persuade Medicaid, which doesn't like to pay for experimental treatment, to ante up because H11 was so effective for the Pemberville woman. Medicaid should cover costs in this and similar instances. People should not be denied drugs that work for them just because they can't afford them. And medical institutions should not have to take more financial hits from insurers than they already do.

If Medicaid won't pay for Mrs. Jackson's care, MCO says it will absorb the cost of administering the drug. Good for MCO.

Both Cissi Jackson and her husband, Dave, are happy to know the medicine is on its way again. “I really thought she was going to die,” Mr. Jackson said. Said she: “I felt so great taking it, so I'm anxious to get back on it.”

She has a lot of people rooting for her, and hoping along with her that H11 continues to prove as effective an enemy to her disease as it has been so far.

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