MIchael contracted Covid 19 and he had a chance at getting one of the antiviral drugs that could have helped him. So why isn't he?
In this segment of Kate Across America, Kate (staying home and isolated per CDC guidelines) communicated remotely with the family of a man in New Jersey who are all on some front in the battle against Covid 19. Here’s Kate….
As the number of cases of Coronavirus accelerates across the United States, Michael Goldsmith, a 34-year-old father of two, is battling a two-front war, one against COVID-19 and one against the manufactures of the potentially lifesaving medication, Remdesivir.
Just two weeks ago, Michael and his wife, Elana, saw the storm in the distance, but never imagined the pandemic would hit so close to home. Today, Michael, having contracted Covid19 is under intensive care in his local New Jersey hospital in Hackensack. He is currently intubated and under a medically induced coma. His best chance at recovery is just barely out of reach, blocked by the clinical-trial and compassionate-use criteria set by Gilead Pharmaceuticals.
Michael has attempted other steps of treatment such as hydroxychloroquine and antibiotics, but they have not helped him. Michael is unable to breathe on his own, and as each day passes, his lungs continue to decimate without the anti-viral, Remdesivir. Currently, Gilead is holding various clinical trials to evaluate the therapeutic benefit of the drug. Receiving Remdesivir through a clinical trial or via compassionate-use is truly Michael’s last resort for turning the tide.
Over the past few weeks, Michael’s family members have become around-the-clock advocates for his right to try this medication. Michael’s doctor applied to have him put into a compassionate use protocol, but unfortunately, Gilead had discontinued its compassionate use applications.
Michael continued to decline and the family looked into joining the Remdesivir clinical trial. At first, Michael was excluded from the clinical trials, because he was on a ventilator. The following day, Gilead changed their enrollment criteria to allow intubated individuals like Michael to receive the drug. He got approval of his treatment plan by both the Hackensack hospital and Gilead, but then Gilead excluded Michael from the clinical trial because of a technicality in the protocol. Michael was again, disqualified from enrolling.
Upon learning that Michael would not be able to join the clinical trial, his wife, Elana and his medical team had one more hope. Gilead had restarted the compassionate use program for those who were unable to join a clinical trial. They applied.
Unfortunately, Gilead’s relaunched compassionate use program was now only open to patients who were either pregnant, or under age 18. Michael, and others like him – the most desperate patients; those on ventilators – would not be able to obtain Remdesivir through compassionate use.
At 34 years old, Michael could succumb to a virus because of an inability to access the drug that might save his life. While America is still experiencing the early stages of this long war, stories like Michael’s will become painfully familiar. Soon, we might all be Michael. We might be his family – fighting against Covid 19 for our loved ones to survive. This is a desperate cause where the greatest pharmaceutical innovators in the world have the ability to provide aid. Now, they must show the will. The cost of not doing so may be nothing less than Michael’s life – or the lives of someone you love.
Post a picture of your family on Twitter and use the hashtag #wearethegoldsmiths
Tell pharmaceutical manufacturers like Gilead to not to exclude those who are at the greatest risk of Covid 19
Kate Pecora is a senior honors student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst studying Healthcare Policy and Political Science. She is an advocate for rare diseases, primarily in the neuromuscular space. She, herself, is diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type III. Kate is currently traveling across the country in search of the most compelling stories of patient access, affordability, and quality. Ultimately this will become a book that will educate students on the importance of patient perspective. Instagram Facebook Twitter