A former UC Irvine cancer specialist who answered a father's pleas to try to save his dying daughter in 1996 is now the target of a criminal investigation by the Food and Drug Administration.
John C. Hiserodt sent an unapproved cancer-fighting drug to Miami Children's Hospital as a treatment aimed at destroying a brain tumor in the Florida girl, according to an internal UC Irvine investigation.
Now, the FDA is looking into reports that Hiserodt may have violated federal restrictions on using experimental treatments on cancer patients and on shipping an unauthorized pharmaceutical to another state, a university official interviewed by the FDA said Monday.
The circumstances prompted a university inquiry in 1996, after which Hiserodt resigned.
Hiserodt could not be reached for comment Monday.
After the girl's death, her father wrote a letter to a UC Irvine Medical Center director calling questions about Hiserodt's actions "offensive and reprehensible." He said that he had begged Hiserodt to intervene, and that the experimental treatment Hiserodt shipped to Miami actually shrank his daughter's tumor. But not enough. She died a few days later.
"Is it possible that your institution has devolved to the point where it has completely lost sight that its reason for existence is to help people?" the father asked in his Dec. 13, 1996, letter to Dr. Yutaka Kikkawa, Hiserodt's supervisor at the medical center.
The letter was obtained by The Times under the Freedom of Information Act.
Dr. Frank Meyskens, director of UC Irvine's Choa Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, said Monday that Hiserodt was in a difficult situation--one cancer researchers must face on occasion--but said it doesn't excuse the use of an unapproved drug on a patient.
Meyskens said he doubts the inquiries will threaten Irvine's federal funding for cancer research, which tops $35 million a year.