A hearing is scheduled before the Michigan Court of Appeals on Wednesday in a fight by the state Department of Human Services to forcibly administer more cancer-causing drugs to a child who was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma, but following an earlier round of treatments has been declared either “in remission” or cured.
The case could be a foreshadowing of the decision-making process that soon will become mandatory under Obamacare.
WND reported several months ago when the state agency filed a lawsuit insisting that the child endure a dangerous course of medication because it was what some doctors wanted for him, despite a series of scans that indicate an absence of any cancer in the child.
The case is being fought on behalf of Ken and Erin Stieler and their son Jacob by attorneys with the Home School Legal Defense Association.
The organization concerns itself with home school rights, responsibilities and restrictions but also intercedes in cases that could have a significant impact on child and parental rights.
The organization reported today that HSLDA Chairman Mike Farris is traveling to Lansing, Mich., to represent the Stielers before the Michigan Court of Appeals on Wednesday.
At issue is the state’s demand to administer chemicals such as ifosfamide, etoposide and doxorubicin even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration states that for ifosfamide and etoposide, the “safety and effectiveness in pediatric patients have not been established.”
The warning for doxorubicin is stronger, stating, “Pediatric patients are at increased risk for developing delayed cardiotoxicity.”
Farris told WND that the facts of the case are important, because Jacob underwent treatment for cancer and has been clean on the last four scans over the last year.
Further, the treatment demanded by the state, which insisted that prosecutors bring a medical neglect case against the parents, is not guaranteed to help and not even guaranteed to be safe.
Lower courts have ruled against the state, and Farris explained earlier, “If they succeed they will force Jacob to resume chemotherapy despite the fact that the drugs in question are not FDA approved (either for children in general or for this particular cancer). Moreover, these drugs do not promise anything close to a guaranteed cure. And, the FDA requires the drug manufacturers to disclose that these drugs cause new cancers to form, heart disease in children, failure to sexually mature, and many other serious side effects in some cases.”
Farris told WND that there is concern about the outcome of the case, as the state’s argument is that the drugs are demanded in the “national standard of care” for the condition.
That’s the same type of concern that has been raised by many organizations and individuals about Obamacare.
Officials from the state did not respond to WND’s request for comment.
In the brief to the appellate court argument against the state’s demands, HSLDA said the state misrepresented the facts in the case in its appeal.
“One glaring example of the erroneous nature of the statement of facts relates to the statement that ‘Dr. Beth Kurt could testify that Jacob’s tumor is not surgically respectable (sic).’ Since Jacob’s PET scans are clear, and have been clear since July 6, 2011, there is no evidence that Jacob has a tumor – resectable or not. No one – not even Dr. Kurt – would or could claim that Jacob currently has a tumor. His tumor was surgically removed and he is free from any objective signs of cancer. … The department’s statement of facts falsely represents the presence of a tumor as a current reality.”
Further, the treatment being demanded by the state would be experimental.
“While there is some dispute about the meaning of the lack of FDA approval, it is undisputed that this drug regiment, on the whole, has not been FDA-approved as safe and effective for the treatment of juvenile Ewing’s sarcoma. It is also undisputed that patients who received these drugs – particularly young children – face a risk of very serious side effects, including the capacity to cause secondary cancers, heart disease, or to inhibit proper sexual development,” the brief said.
Meanwhile, the family has set up a series of periodic scans to monitor Jacob, and have made plans for further treatment should circumstances develop that it is needed.
It was Erin Stieler who explained why the family made its own plans, and rejected the state plans.
“There is no doubt that I would continue to have Jacob treated with the recommended conventional therapy if the doctors could assure me that there was current evidence that he has cancer, that he would die without the treatment, that the treatment was safe and effective for his condition, that the treatment would cure him, and that there were no dangerous side effects,” she said.
Further, the state’s own agency investigator said procedure would be to close the case, but that officials from high in the department were applying pressure to force the treatment.
Farris said that the state’s plan is to follow the “standard” treatment, which has been described as dangerous.
“If we are put in a position where national standards are established, whether by practice or the government, it comes out the same,” he said. “This case may well shape parental rights principles for the long haul. We believe that parents, not doctors, should make tough decisions like this.”
The HSLDA earlier reported how Jacob was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma, a dangerous bone cancer, and he had surgery to remove a tumor and then chemotherapy to follow up.
“The treatment was incredibly difficult, and Jacob’s mom, Erin, told me that when she looked her son in the eyes, she knew in her heart that he simply could not survive many more rounds of these drugs,” Farris reported.
They tapped into a prayer network and were joined by hundreds to pray for their son’s recovery.
“After all of these rounds of chemotherapy were completed, there was a PET scan done to check on the status of the cancer. There was no evidence of cancer detected in Jacob’s body. Jacob’s family and friends rejoiced in his healing – praising God for this wonderful outcome,” Farris said.
Farris said the treatment physician even testified that the drugs were safe and had been approved by the FDA as effective for children when they, in fact, carried a warning that they had not.
A warning accompanying another drug demanded by the doctors, vincristine, was typical of those in the case, he said.
That warning said, “Patients who received chemotherapy with vinchristine sulfate in combination with anticancer drugs known to be carcinogenic have developed second malignancies.”