After the biotech firm Genentech informed her she wouldn't have access to their potentially lifesaving drug Pertuzumab until June, breast cancer patient Darlene Gant, who was told she might not live that long, took to YouTube with the help of her husband to plead for an early release of the medication.
She succeeded: The video, which shows Gant discussing letters she's been penning for her son Cameron to read after she's gone, spurred many viewers to call the company and demand they provide Gant with a dose of Pertuzumab.
Though the drug isn't scheduled to be formally approved by the FDA until June, a Compassionate Use clause allows doctors to administer unreleased medication when no other options are left.
Still, the method by which Gant went about convincing Genentech is highly unorthodox. "It's generally not done with a patient initiative," said Dr. Michael Hayes of the Tampa-based Moffitt Cancer Center. "It's generally through a physician."
But Gant, who has stage-four breast cancer, was running out of time, and had to resort to drastic measures. "I believe it could be lifesaving," she said. "At the least, life extending, which is better than where I'm at."
Gant received her first dose of Pertuzumab last Friday. She hopes it will allow her to live long enough to see her son turn 12 in October, but she said she's happy to take as many days as she can get.
"If it gave us two months or a year," she says, "that's priceless for a family."