Will new FDA pediatric cancer drug save lives?

Written by Ankin Law Office

Neuroblastoma is a cancer that affects the nerve cells during early childhood. According to the American Cancer Society, neuroblastoma represents the most common cancer in infants younger than one year old. Sadly, in addition to affecting many children here in Illinois, this cancer is often aggressive and highly debilitating.

Today, the five-year survival rate for children with high-risk cases of neuroblastoma is less than 50 percent. However, a new drug may help reduce tumor recurrence and improve long-term outcomes for these children.

Early successes

The FDA recently approved the use of Unituxin, which is an immunotherapy drug, to treat neuroblastoma. Immunotherapy drugs aid the immune system in fighting cancer cells. Unituxin, which binds to neuroblastoma cells, is the first drug designed specifically to treat this cancer, according to the ACS.

This new treatment for high-risk neuroblastoma showed encouraging results in a clinical trial of 226 children. After three years, 63 percent of the children who received the drug had no tumor growth or recurrence. In contrast, only 46 percent of the children who did not receive Unituxin experienced the same improvements. Furthermore, the drug significantly increased the survival rate after three years to 73 percent.

Seeking assistance

Unfortunately, even with successful treatment available, childhood neuroblastoma can create a significant burden for children and their families. Many parents may struggle to cover the costs of securing necessary medical treatment. Other parents may need to limit work or other obligations to focus on caring for their children. For these families, Social Security Disability benefits may offer assistance.

As any Chicago SSD lawyer understands, children who suffer from debilitating conditions may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income benefits. To qualify for benefits, children and their immediate family members must meet income and asset restrictions. Caretakers also must provide adequate proof that a child suffers from a qualifying disabling condition.

SSD for neuroblastoma

Social Security Administration claims examiners determine whether children qualify for SSI benefits based on the available medical evidence. As a Chicago SSD lawyer could explain, for claims involving neuroblastoma, parents should provide the following documentation:

  • Clinical history and official diagnosis
  • Results of examinations
  • Objective evidence, such as imaging tests or biopsies
  • Records of treatment or surgeries
  • Updated records describing progress or prognosis

The SSA includes neuroblastoma in its Compassionate Allowances (CAL) program. This program reduces evidentiary requirements and expedites claim processing for especially severe conditions, as any Chicago SSD lawyer knows. Recurrent or metastasizing childhood neuroblastoma qualifies for the program.

CAL conditions generally are debilitating enough to be considered disabling. However, claim approval is not guaranteed for people who suffer from these conditions. Claimants still must provide sufficient medical documentation to avoid delays and support a favorable claim decision.

Categories: Social Security

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