Shutdown forces new NIH clinical trial patients to wait for treatment

Posted at 6:46 AM, Oct 02, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-02 06:46:38-04

(CNN) – Every week, hundreds of new patients, including children with cancer, are admitted to new clinical trials through the National Institutes of Health.

But because of the government shutdown, those patients who are newly registered are being put on hold until the government resumes operation.

About 200 people register for NIH clinical trials every week. But those patients are being told they will have to wait until the government starts up again to begin their trials, according to NIH spokesman, John Burklow.

“In fact six new studies would have started this week that we are deferring,” Burklow said.

Of that 200, approximately 30 are children, and about 10 of those children are cancer patients, Burklow said.

Burklow did note that participants who are already in studies are still being treated and will continue with their trials. Burklow also said patients in desperate need of treatment will be handled differently and will more than likely be seen by physicians or nurses at the NIH Clinical Center.

About 75% of NIH’s employees — or about 14,700 people — have been furloughed.