DENVER - The government shutdown is preventing Colorado cancer patients from new clinical trials.
Because the National Institutes of Health is shuttered, the Colorado Cancer Research Program won't get any new cancer trials, which could have a major impact on cancer patients and medical research.
Dr. Keren Sturtz, a medical oncologist who oversees cancer clinical trials for the entire state, said current trials will remain open, and the patients will continue to receive treatment.
"But in terms of new drugs, new trials, new concepts, none of those things are going to be available to us until the government shutdown comes to an end," said Sturtz.
Sturtz is the principal investigator for the Colorado Cancer Research Program, an NIH-funded organization that operates cancer trials in 18 hospitals across the state, with 70 clinical trials available and 300 patients.
"The window of opportunity to put a patient on a clinical trial is a very, very, small window," said Sturtz. "So, there are going to be some patients who perhaps are waiting for a clinical trial that we know is in the pipeline that they will miss out on the opportunity because their window is closed."
The House voted Wednesday to approve NIH funding, but the Senate has refused to fund only select parts of the government.
Sturtz said the delay means there will be a backlog in processing data they are collecting, which may lead to delays in research and FDA approval of potentially life-saving drugs.