How did every parent’s worst nightmare — the death of a child — spur the creation of an incentive system to turn making drugs for childhood cancer from a high-risk, low-reward gamble to a bet a company might make?

Before Nancy Goodman’s son, Jacob, died in 2009, there were only a few, old drugs at hand to treat him. After he died, she asked why.

“The question I wanted to ask was, ‘Why was it that the drugs that had been given to treatment, why were they 40 years old?’ What can we do to create incentives and requirements to bring private industry to pediatric cancer and to develop drugs for kids with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses?”


That’s where her quest for change started. Her weapon against inaction? Something called “priority review vouchers.”

Subscribe to Signal on iTunes or Stitcher or Google Play. Catch our previous episodes here, or sign up below for alerts.

The podcast is produced by Jocelyn Gonzales.

Leave a Comment

Please enter your name.
Please enter a comment.

  • Great work, Luke and Meg. Like your other podcasts it’s smart and balanced.

    Here’s a small correction for wonky listeners wanting to dig into the details:

    In Episode 20 at 12:05: “being able to sell one of these things wasn’t a part of the original program.”
    In fact, the original law said “The sponsor of a tropical disease product that receives a priority review voucher under this section may transfer (including by sale) the entitlement to such voucher”. The problem was that FDA attorneys interpreted the law as allowing only one transfer. So company A could sell to company B but then B could not resell to C. We worked with Senators to get a 2014 amendment that allowed for unlimited transfers for tropical vouchers (the 2012 law allowed unlimited transfers only for pediatric vouchers).

Sign up for our Daily Recap newsletter

A roundup of STAT’s top stories of the day in science and medicine

Privacy Policy