Virginia boy treated with Chimerix drug leaving hospital

jmurawski@newsobserver.comJuly 16, 2014 

Josh Hardy is heading home.

The critically ill first-grader who was given an experimental antiviral by Durham-based drug developer Chimerix was to be released from the hospital Wednesday and has been successfully treated for kidney failure, the boy’s mother announced on Facebook.

The 8-year-old boy’s discharge and clean bill of health is a validation for brincidofovir, the experimental drug being developed by Chimerix that is not expected to be commercially available until 2016.

“We are going home!!!!” Josh’s mom, Aimee Hardy, posted on her Facebook page. “After 6 1/2 months, Josh finally gets to be in his house.”

Aimee Hardy’s Facebook posts have been the only source of information about the performance of brincidofovir.

Chimerix executives have said they would not comment on Josh’s health status. Neither would officials at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, where Josh had been staying in Memphis, Tenn., since late last year.

“The mother has been very proactive in keeping everyone apprised of Josh’s progress,” said Joseph Schepers, Chimerix’s director for investor relations.

The potent antiviral can wipe out viruses without the toxic side effects of cidofovir, the primary medication in use today. Chimerix has up to $75.8 million in financial backing from the federal government’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to develop brincidofovir as a potential medical treatment for smallpox spread by accident or by bioterror attack.

Josh and Chimerix made international headlines this spring when his family launched a social media campaign to persuade the Triangle drug developer to release the experimental drug to the gravely ill boy.

Thousands of strangers enlisted in “Josh’s Army” and vilified Chimerix as a heartless corporation until the company relented and provided the unapproved drug.

The 59-employee company made brincidofovir available in a clinical trial limited to 20 people. The trial began in March, with Josh as the first patient, and is expected to be completed in December 2016, according to ClinicalTrials.gov.

Josh also appears to be the first to have completed the brincidofovir regimen.

“He has not had the need of a blood transfusion in a month,” Aimee Hardy’s Facebook post said. “He can walk a nice distance holding my hands. And we anticipate the return of his immunity in a few months.”

Schepers said more than 20 hospitals have agreed to treat patients with brincidofovir as part of the trial. They include Duke University Medical Center, Johns Hopkins University, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, according to ClinicalTrials.gov.

Several months ago, Josh, a four-time cancer survivor, was experiencing kidney failure and falling in and out of consciousness. He had became infected with adenovirus, which can cause organ failure and death, after a recent bone marrow transplant to trreat leukemia.

“His Kidney function has returned and he is free of the need of Dialysis,” Aimee Hardy posted on Facebook. “His heart function is within normal range. His lung function is perfect. His tummy is coming around.”

Murawski: 919-829-8932

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