A “Compassionate Use treatment” or “Compassionate Use”, is a medical treatment with a medication administered to a patient who suffers from a life-threatening disease or a disease that cause a major disability, and the patient cannot be properly treated with a registered medication approved for marketing in Israel or any country or include the medical treatment in a clinical trial. Contrary to popular belief, “Compassionate Use” is intended for all cancer patients and not only for patients who have exhausted all treatments and have few days left. These are the most advanced treatments in the world and it is important to learn about them just as it is important to learn about any other treatment.
The drug will only be issued to those with a prescription approved by all the medical, professional and ethical committee appearing on the prescription after they have been convinced that the benefits of using the drug outweigh the risks involved.
Compassionate use is a treatment, which the pharmaceutical company who developed it consents to provide to a patient outside of a clinical trial and before it has been approved by health authorities. As long as the drug or treatment have not been approved by health authorities, these treatments are given free of charge.
Pharmaceutical companies are not bound by law to agree to any compassionate use application, however, when they do, their compassion may very well benefit the patient.
The reasons for the provision of compassionate use are shared by all those involved in the fight against cancer, patients, doctors and pharmaceutical companies – to improve the patient’s health and help them fight their cancer.
It is important to understand that pharmaceutical companies do not operate out of business considerations alone. True to their name, Compassionate Uses treatments are provided by the companies as an act of compassion.
As Compassionate Use treatments are for unapproved treatments, they are considered treatments which constitute medical experimentation on individuals. Such uses must be approved for use by the Helsinki Ethics Committee. The treating oncologist will submit the prescription to the committee along with other approvals from the drug committee, the trial institutes management board and the head of pharmaceutical services and the Ministry of Health. They will also provide the patient’s medical history, their written consent, relevant studies and literature and a follow-up and reporting plan. As far as the cancer patient is concerned, this means that the treatment offered by Compassionate Use has been meticulously tested by the relevant and appropriate professional entities and that when they begin Compassionate Use treatment, the process will be controlled and their progress will be closely monitored.