Biogen CEO James Mullen forgets to be human


This post has nothing to do with product management. Andrew Baron, founder of RocketBoom reported yesterday that his father Frederick Baron, is dying of multiple myeloma, a particularly nasty form of cancer. Last week doctors gave him days to live – as of this morning he’s still fighting.Sad story indeed and my heart goes out to the family. But this story has an even sadder twist.

In a blog post, Andrew says that the family was preparing for the worst. But then one of Frederick’s doctors discovered last week that a multiple sclerosis drug called Tysabri, produced by Biogen Idec, may cure the cancer. But Biogen CEO James Mullen has refused to authorize use of the experimental drug to save Fred’s life, in spite of pleas from former President Clinton, Senators Kennedy, Harkin and Kerry and Lance Armstrong. Why he says No is beyond Andrew and the readers. It is one thing to say No, but you at least have to explain why.

I feel so bad for Andrew and his family, but this is a case where corporate folks stop being human. Yes, we live in a litigious world, but can Biogen not have Andrew say that Biogen will not be sued in any event and save a life? When did a life stop being precious to a pharmaceutical company?

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