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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Ayotte steps in to help ill Hudson girl get treatment

U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., wrote a letter Tuesday urging the federal Food and Drug Administration to grant an exception to a 2012 ban on a drug that may be able to help McKenzie Lowe, a 12-year-old Hudson girl battling a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer.

The drug, developed decades ago by controversial Texas physician Dr. Stanislaw R. Burzynski and named “antineoplastons,” was banned by the FDA as part of the fallout from Burzynski’s 1995 indictment on multiple charges connected to allegations he violated the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. ...

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U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., wrote a letter Tuesday urging the federal Food and Drug Administration to grant an exception to a 2012 ban on a drug that may be able to help McKenzie Lowe, a 12-year-old Hudson girl battling a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer.

The drug, developed decades ago by controversial Texas physician Dr. Stanislaw R. Burzynski and named “antineoplastons,” was banned by the FDA as part of the fallout from Burzynski’s 1995 indictment on multiple charges connected to allegations he violated the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

But dozens of cancer survivors who say Burzynski’s drug saved their lives inspired McKenzie’s parents, Ron and Dianne Lowe, to travel two months ago to Texas to meet Burzynski and ask for his help.

The result was the launch of an online and in-person petition drive that’s more than challenging: The family needs at least 100,000 signatures before the federal government will consider McKenzie’s case.

“The Lowes are fighting for their terminally ill little girl, and they deserve the right to explore treatment options that may help her continue to fight her cancer,” Ayotte wrote to FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg. “Whether or not a terminally ill child is able to receive certain types of care should be a decision made by the family. I would hope the FDA would not stand in the way when no other treatment options are available for an already terminally ill child.”

Ayotte is one of 34,000 people worldwide who have signed the petition, according to Ayotte’s office.

It was only two weeks ago, Dianne Lowe said, that reaching such a number so quickly seemed impossible.

“At first it was just New Hampshire and Massachusetts,” she said of people who signed the online petition, which can be found at www.change.org, and then searching for “McKenzie Lowe.”

“But then it suddenly went viral. There have been 4,000 new (signatures) just today,” she said Tuesday afternoon.

It was McKenzie’s grandfather, Frank LaFountain, who reached out to Ayotte, Lowe said. “He contacted her the other day. He’s been doing so much for McKenzie.”

Ayotte, in her letter to Hamburg, painted a picture of McKenzie as “just like many typical sixth graders in New Hampshire,” except she has the added challenge of battling the condition whose clinical name, diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, means her tumor is located in the pons, or middle, of the brain stem, which connects the cerebrum with the spinal cord.

The majority of such tumors, according to the American Brain Tumor Association, are diffusely infiltrating, meaning they grow amid the nerves, and are therefore, unable to be surgically removed.

Meanwhile, McKenzie, who was diagnosed a year ago, continues to be upbeat and, according to her mother, is feeling pretty good right now.

“She’s pretty excited watching the numbers keep going up,” Dianne Lowe said of the family’s online petition-watch. “Seeing so many people wanting to help makes her feel really special.”

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-6443 or dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Shalhoup on Twitter (@Telegraph_DeanS).