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Friday
Sep132013

Dying Dad Pleads for Unapproved Cancer Drug

Catherine Sutherland(DENVER) -- A Denver man has one last chance to beat terminal cancer: a so-called wonder drug that helps a patient's immune system shrink tumors for good.

The trouble is, hours after Nick Auden, 40, was admitted into a clinical trial on July 2, he suffered a complication and was immediately disqualified.  What's more, the drug companies that make the "wonder drug" won't allow him to take it on his own.

"I could not sleep," his wife, Amy Auden, told ABC News.  "I was lying awake at night thinking, I can't just lie here and do nothing."

Without the drug, Nick's doctor told his wife that "this is the end of the road," and that her husband had between six and nine months to live.

So Amy started sending emails at 3 a.m. and the "Save Locky's Dad" campaign was born.  The Audens aren't looking for money -- just signatures on a petition addressed to drug companies Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb, pleading for access to one of their immune-boosting anti-PD-1 cancer drugs.

Lachlan, nicknamed "Locky," is Nick's 7-year-old son, and he is included in a video on the "Save Locky's Dad" website asking for people to support his dad.

"I want my dad to get the PD-1 drug because then I can do the things I like to do with him all the time," Locky says in the video, flashing a smile between shots of the two playing Frisbee.

The Audens' Change.org petition has more than 218,000 signatures and counting.

Nick's story started in March 2010, when he had a cancerous mole removed.  Although it put him at risk for more skin cancer, he continued to live an active life, running, biking and hiking.

But in September 2011, Nick said his doctors sat him down and told him the cancer had returned and had spread throughout his body.  The official diagnosis was stage 4 melanoma.

"Some people survive, 90-odd percent don't," he said.  "There's no doubt that was tough news.  I had trouble not being emotional about it every time I thought of the concept of not being there to watch the kids grow up."

Amy was pregnant with the couple's third child when doctors told her husband that his median life expectancy was between six and nine months.

Two years of radiation and other experimental treatments later, Nick is still alive, but time is running out, his doctors say.

Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb told ABC News they couldn't comment on Nick's case but couldn't yet allow the drug to be used outside clinical trials, citing safety considerations.

"When you've been given a terminal diagnosis, you're prepared to accept a drug that's 50 percent effective," Nick said.  "Safety concerns don't really figure in the same way."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio