‘The Moral High Ground’: Dying Mom’s YouTube Plea Convinces Genentech to Give Her Unapproved Cancer Drug
A prominent biotech corporation is giving a dying mother an unapproved cancer drug that could prolong her life after her emotional YouTube plea convinced the company to take the unusual step.
ABC News reports that 46-year-old Darlene Gant of Tampa Bay Florida, who is dying of stage 4 breast cancer, posted a YouTube video in which she tearfully explains that she doesn’t expect to live long enough to see FDA approval of pertuzumab, a trial breast cancer drug produced by South San Francisco-based biotech firm Genentech. Pertuzumab isn’t expected to be approved until June 8.
“In the meantime, no one is eligible for compassionate use, including me, so, although I don’t put everything into pertuzumab, it could stabilize me and help save my life and extend my time here on the earth with my 11-year-old son and my family,” Gant said.
She appears extremely weak in the video, lying in her death bed in a hospital room and holding up a letter and future cards for her son’s next birthday, high school and college graduations and wedding day.
“My dream is hopefully this video would wake somebody up to think,” she says in the video.
At first, Gant was angry at the FDA for barring her from receiving pertuzumab. But the FDA had approved the administering of the trial drug; it was Genentech that refused to give it to her.
But that changed after her case drew national attention and she, along with family and friends, made repeated pleas to the company.
“We understand the urgency of her situation,” Genentech spokeswoman Krysta Pellegrino said. The company has released the drug for Gant’s use on compassionate grounds.
Gant has been given a large initial “loading dose” of pertuzumab. She is being closely monitored; side affects of the unapproved drug could include rash, difficulty breathing, liver damage and heart problems. But those are risks the dying mom is more than willing to take. The alternative is certain and imminent death.
Gant is grateful for the company’s change of heart.
“If it gave us two months or a year, that’s priceless for a family,” she said.
Tagged breast cancer, darlene gant, darlene gant genentech, darlene gant pertuzumab, dying mom's youtube plea, experimental breast cancer drugs, FDA, genentech, krysta pellegrino, pertuzumab, stage 4 breast cancer