FDA OKs ‘living drug’ in leukemia fight


On Wednesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a new and unconventional treatment that is expected to have an incredibly positive result on children with leukemia.

The treatment genetically alters the patient’s cells to be anti-leukemia specific cells, although experts are hopeful that it will also be useful against other forms of cancer. It is the first treatment of its kind to be approved by the FDA and its genetic nature has led writers from The New York Times to dub the cells it produces a “living drug.”

The treatment, named Kymriah and licensed to the Novartis pharmaceutical company, is predicted to cost $475,000 per patient and will be available in a specified chain of hospitals in as early as three to five days.

Both The New York Times and The Washington Post do well in covering the specifics of the treatment and the movement surrounding it, particularly in regard to sources. They cover people whom the treatment will affect, such as the sickly 12-year-old Emma Whitehead and her family, as well as health professionals and experts on the topic.

They go through people involved in every stage of the treatment’s development, from the University of Pennsylvania professor who pushed its development to the FDA officials who had the final say in getting it approved.

The newspapers also did their research and included explanations of how the treatment works, why it’s so costly and time consuming to produce, and how patients would be covered in the unlikely case of failure. Both news outlets seem to have covered all their bases while remaining factual and unbiased, making their articles both informative and professional.