“Last year, nearly 1,200 patients received treatment with experimental drugs through the compassionate use program for conditions including hepatitis C, cancer and rare diseases like cystic fibrosis,” an increase of 1,000 patients from 2010, blogger Peter Pitts writes. The FDA has attempted to increase participation, training doctors to make use of the program. “The agency allows manufacturers to make their drugs available, but can’t require them to do so, and some companies are reluctant to participate before their products have received marketing approval,” Pitts adds. The program is run by the FDA’s little known Office of Special Health Issues. “Kudos to the agency — and well deserved,” Pitts adds.