The value of friends in a battle: Terry Kalley and the Genentech Avastin battle with the FDA

On December 16, 2010, the FDA issued a press release regarding the Genentech drug Avastin. The headline to the release says it all:

FDA begins process to remove breast cancer indication from Avastin label: Drug not shown to be safe and effective in breast cancer patients

On Genentech’s side are Washington lawyers, lobbyists and a national public-relations giant. This is a Fierce Group for sure.

However, just like the army, air force, and marines going to fight a war, we know what this Fierce Group is going to do. After all, Genentech’s paying them. You wouldn’t want to call these hired guns “friends” or even “allies” … they are just hired guns. If Genentech wasn’t paying them, they wouldn’t be in the pharmaceutical’s corner.

Now, I’m not going to get into whether Avastin is “good” or “bad”, or whether it is effective or safe in treating breast cancer. For some of that debate, please read the Wall Street Journal article and comments. Nor am I saying that companies shouldn’t hire lawyers, lobbyists, or PR firms.

What is interesting about this fight is that Genentech has Terry Kalley. Kalley has set up Freedom of Access to Medicines, which he started to “fight for the right of all women to have access to the drug Avastin in their fight with the incurable disease, metastatic breast cancer”. You can support Kalley’s efforts on Facebook and Twitter. You can even watch a cartoon video that was made:

Kalley is not working for Genentech, although according to the WSJ article, he has met with the company’s representatives in Washington. Kalley and people like him are better than these “hired guns”, because they have no money motive. They’re doing it because they believe in the product and seen what it’s done. As the FAMEDS website describes, Kalley is involved because his wife “has been an Avastin patient for more than two years and her medical team ascribes her longevity and quality of life to Avastin”.

So, what’s the value of people like Kalley to any product or company?

The WSJ article says it best:

The Kalleys are among thousands who have flooded Congress with calls and petitions on Avastin, bringing an emotional component and moving stories of near-miracles that has proven difficult for the FDA to counter in past controversies, particular those involving cancer treatments.

Moreover, there is more to this story than just Kalley and the Avastin crisis. Because in “non-crisis” times, these same supporters are the best product promoters money can buy — only they didn’t need to be “bought” because they’re believers already.

So, if your company or product has no friends, start finding them!

Boxcutters Gem #1220 – Friends are great in a time of crisis. In non-crisis times, they can be your best product spokespeople!

One Response to “The value of friends in a battle: Terry Kalley and the Genentech Avastin battle with the FDA”
  1. FAMEDS says:

    Only 40 Days Left Until the FDA Avastin Hearing & Decision. Is That All the Time 17,500 MBC Women Have Left?

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