Fighting for Treatment

UPDATE:  Nick Auden lost his battle with stage 4 melanoma in November, 2013. On their website, the Auden family stated:  "[We] w ould like to extend deep gratitude to all those who fought with us for the opportunity to extend this worthy man the opportunity to continue his inspiring life."

• If you would like to send a message of condolence to Nick's family, you can write to them at

Nick, 40, is a husband and father to three young children. Diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma, his doctors told him he has mere months to live and a zero percent chance of survival. Not willing to accept his fate without a fight, Nick pursued a clinical trial for a new drug called PD-1, which has shown promising results and could potentially give him a 50 percent chance of survival. After being accepted into the clinical trial, he was subsequently deemed ineligible after he suffered a bowel obstruction and, therefore, became disqualified to participate in the trial. Desperate to save their loved one, Nick’s family started an online petition to persuade the drug company to grant him compassionate use of the drug.

Nick’s cancer is in stage 4, meaning that the cancer has spread outside the original location and cannot be treated with localized procedures. The drug he is petitioning to try, PD-1, uses the body’s own immune system to fight cancer, and hasn’t been shown to have many side effects.

The Doctors discuss the pros and cons of clinical trials. To shed some light on the issue, they are joined by two esteemed oncologists — Dr. Michael Wong, from the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Dr. Robert Figlin, director at Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute.

Dr. Figlin explains, “I think there’s a spectrum of options. He could receive the drug and shorten his life — is that something he’s willing to accept? He could receive the drug, and he could lengthen his life; that’s obviously optimistic. He could take the drug, and there would be no effect on his life. The reason we do clinical trials is because we don’t know whether a, b or c is the likely scenario for Nick.”

“In this situation,” he continues, “it will come down to the sponsor of the drug allowing Nick to receive it.”

The Doctors reached out to the drug companies that produce PD-1, Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb, and received this response from Bristol-Myers Squibb. The companies are currently working to get commercial availability for their drugs, but this process could take up to 18 months.

Nick’s family’s petition, Save Locky’s Dad, has over 480,000 signatures so far. The family is hopeful that the drug company will be urged by the public outpouring of support to allow Nick to receive PD-1, despite the risks involved with taking an unapproved drug.

ER physician Dr. Travis Stork adds, “The takeaway here is that clinical trials are a necessity, but I think that we would wish as much as possible that more compassionate use cases — and certainly in the case of Nick — [were granted].”

To sign the family’s petition in support of Nick, please click here.

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