PR - Crisis and Management

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Controversial drug supported by Ketchum PR

Four years ago, almost no one had heard of Herceptin. Today, the drug is a household name, and British women with early-stage breast cancer are going to court for the right to get it. Despite the fact that Herceptin is not actually licensed for use in early-stage cancer, and clinical tests have yet to prove it will ever save lives, it is in high demand. Ketchum PR firm helped promote the drug for Roche Pharmaceuticals through support for patient groups such as CancerBACUP, which gets a significant chunk of its funding from Roche and other drug companies.

Ketchum describes the benefits of the product on "Herceptin is a humanized antibody, designed to target and block the function of HER2, a protein produced by a specific gene with cancer-causing potential. Herceptin has demonstrated improved survival in the advanced setting, where its addition to chemotherapy allows patients to live up to one-third longer than chemotherapy alone. Herceptin received approval in the European Union in 2000 for use in patients with metastatic breast cancer, whose tumors overexpress the HER2 protein, as first-line therapy in combination with paclitaxel where anthracyclines are unsuitable, and as a single agent in second- and third-line therapy. In 2004, it also received approval for use in combination with docetaxel as a first-line therapy in HER2-positive patients who have not received chemotherapy for their metastatic disease. Herceptin is marketed in the United States by Genentech, in Japan by Chugai and internationally by Roche. Since 1998, Herceptin has been used to treat over 230,000 HER2-positive breast cancer patients worldwide."

"It is not just the patient groups that drug companies hope to get support from," PR executive Sarah Bosely writes. "They also want 'opinion leaders' - people with credibility who can be quoted in the papers and on TV. ... But patient groups are the most rewarding target and there is an obvious risk that they could be influenced by companies with turnovers as large as the GDP of small nations. (

Ketchum's web-site had this to say about it's relationship with the controversial drug company.

"Roche UK has appointed Ketchum to provide UK public relations support for its portfolio of oncology products, including Herceptin (trastuzumab) for breast cancer, MabThera (rituximab) for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and Xeloda (capecitabine) indicated for colorectal cancer and under investigation for other forms of cancer.
Ketchum's appointment follows a competitive proposal process conducted during January and February 2001.
"We're thrilled to be working in the UK on such an exciting group of products," said David Gallagher, Managing Director/Healthcare. "We're pleased to be expanding our relationship with a great company dedicated to providing innovative cancer treatments for patients worldwide and in the UK."


Blogger Danny Haszard said...

Well said,i applaud your blog,mental health consumers are the least capable of self advocacy,my doctors made me take zyprexa for 4 years which was ineffective for my symptoms.I now have a victims support page against Eli Lilly for it's Zyprexa product causing my diabetes.--Daniel Haszard

4:33 PM  

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