New FDA hotline fast-tracks cancer patients into clinical trials

For cancer patients, looking for treatment after all the traditional options have run out can be scary but now the FDA is stepping in to help patients get the care that may otherwise be off-limits.

It's a new call center hotline called Project Facilitate. It was set up to help doctors request unproven treatments for cancer patients.

In the past, in order to get access to experimental drugs or devices, a physician would have to contact the pharmaceutical company and then get authorization from the corresponding department at the FDA.

Doctors said it was a burdensome and difficult process.

The new hotline will let doctors speak directly with FDA oncologists.

The expanded access is available for patients with an "immediately life-threatening or serious disease or condition" when there are no other approved alternatives.

Doctors will also be required to keep the FDA in the loop by tracking who's getting the therapies and how they're responding.

If the treatments are working, the FDA hopes drug manufacturers will be encouraged to accept more of those patients into their clinical trials.  

Your physician may call the Project Facilitate hotline, 240-402-0004, or they can email OncProjectFacilitate@fda.hhs.gov.