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Tom White: From Rituxan Project Team to WM Patient

Published in the Torch October 2012, pages 13, 34-35.

In 1981, following ten years working for U.S. pharmaceutical manufacturers, Tom White switched jobs and began working in the nascent biotechnology industry with a promising start-up firm called Genentech. Eventually, at Genentech, in 1997, Tom moved into a new role as a member of a team whose objective was to support the development, global supply chain, approval, and commercialization of a new therapeutic agent that was designed to enlist the body’s own immune system in fighting lymphocytic blood cancers such as leukemias, lymphomas, and, not least, Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia. That agent, of course was Rituxan, and while performing as a senior official at Genentech Tom became very familiar with all aspects of Rituxan and its diverse applications, and met many people who had used and benefited from treatment with what quickly was recognized to be a “miracle drug.”

Most people who know how rare a disease WM is probably would not want to estimate the odds against somebody whose random career decisions led him to work on the development of a drug, might, two decades later, wind up being a sufferer of a minority disorder for which that very drug was considered to be among the most effective front-line therapies available. That, in fact, is Tom’s story – in 2008 he was diagnosed with WM – a disorder so rare that despite his close association with Rituxan applications, he had barely ever heard of. Not long thereafter, he underwent a treatment regimen that included Rituxan. Read the full article about Tom’s fascinating account of the path he trod from his early work on Genentech’s Rituxan core team to his recent experience making Rituxan work for him in treating his WM.