House Speaker Nancy Pelosi allegedly pulled strings to help a major Democratic donor, Fred Baron, get access to an experimental drug after the manufacturer refused to give permission to use the drug to treat his bone marrow cancer. Though it wasn’t public at the time, Baron was simultaneously bankrolling the relocation of John Edwards’ pregnant mistress, Rielle Hunter.
Fred Baron, known as the “King of Toxic Torts,” built a fortune suing on behalf of asbestos victims, and died shortly before Election Day 2008 at age 61. He served as financial chief for John Edwards and it later came out that he’d been funneling money to Hunter. At the time Pelosi intervened, his role in bankrolling Hunter and her daughter with Edwards was unknown.Baron had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, and by October 2008, doctors at the Mayo Clinic were saying he had just days to live, but said after testing a large number of drugs they discovered that Baron’s cancer responded well to a drug called Tysabri.
But the drug wasn’t approved for that use, and the drug manufacturer wouldn’t budge. So his wife Lisa Blue contacted numerous politicians. Many were supportive but Pelosi “put her heart and soul” into the cause, as did Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), she told The Dallas News.
Blue isn’t sure how, but Pelosi managed to get the Federal Drug Administration to find a legal justification that let Mayo administer the drug without the drug company’s permission.
“He was a big fan of [Pelosi], and now I am as well,” Blue said. “Nancy figured out a way,” she said.
According to The Dallas News, the drug beat back the cancer for a few days.