US physician denies financial incentive to treat 11-month-old Charlie Gard

The U.S. physician who sought to provide an experimental treatment to 11-month-old Charlie Gard denied having any financial interest in the therapy Wednesday, according to The Telegraph.

Michio Hirano, MD, chief of the division of neuromuscular disorders and director of the H. Houston Merritt Clinical Research Center at New York City-based Columbia University Medical Center, traveled to London last week to examine Charlie and determine if he may be a candidate for an experimental treatment.

Dr. Hirano proposed Charlie undergo nucleoside bypass therapy, which he claimed had a small chance of improving some of Charlie's symptoms. Charlie was diagnosed with infantile onset encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, an incurable autosomal recessive disorder that causes a drop in an individual's mitochondrial DNA in affected tissues.

"I became involved in Charlie's case when I was contacted by his parents, and I subsequently agreed to speak with his doctors to discuss whether an experimental therapy being developed in my lab could provide meaningful clinical improvement in Charlie's condition," Dr. Hirano said in a statement.

"As I disclosed in court on July 13, I have relinquished and have no financial interest in the treatment being developed for Charlie's condition," he continued. "Unfortunately, a MRI scan of Charlie's muscle tissue conducted in the past week has revealed that it is very unlikely that he would benefit from this treatment."

Charlie's physicians at the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London said in a statement July 24 they were "surprise[d] and disappoint[ed]" to learn Dr. Hirano "retain[ed] a financial interest in some of the NBT compounds he proposed prescribing for Charlie," and that … he had not read Charlie's contemporaneous medical records or viewed Charlie's brain imaging or read all of the second opinions about Charlie's condition … or even read the judge's [April 11] decision."

On July 24, Chris Gard and Connie Yates decided to end their legal battle to allow Charlie to receive treatment in the U.S. The couple asked the judge permission July 25 to take Charlie off of life support and allow him to spend his last days at home. However, the request was again met with opposition from the infant's physicians at GOSHC, who argued during court proceedings Tuesday the "invasive ventilation [Charlie] requires can only be provided in a hospital setting."

More articles on hospital-physician relationships:
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