Last night, Bristol-Myers Squibb and ImClone Systems announced that a study being published in the prestigious "New England Journal of Medicine" shows their cancer drug Erbitux extended the lives of some metastatic colon cancer patients. The median survival of the people on Erbitux was just over six months versus about four-and-a-half months for those who got conventional drug treatment.
While as a journalist I am always extremely cautious about venturing an opinion on the safety or efficacy of any drug, in this instance I am making an exception because the survival benefit of Erbitux is one that I personally suspect to be true.
Last week my friend, Dr. Scott Hitt, died of metastatic colon cancer. You can read Scott's obituaries that appeared in the "Los Angeles Times" and "New York Times". He was 49 and had been battling the disease since he was diagnosed in 1999. Eight years! I called him the "miracle man" because he had so beaten the odds several times over.
Erbitux came to market when Scott really needed it. When I learned that he had started taking Erbitux in combination with chemotherapy in 2004, I asked Scott if he'd be willing to do an interview with me about it on CNBC. We had been reporting for years about Erbitux as it related to the trading scandals of Sam Waksal and Martha Stewart, but because the drug was so new (it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration during the Martha Stewart trial) we hadn't yet talked to anyone who'd actually been on it. Scott agreed. And in early 2005 we aired the story in the video clip below.