'Cell Game' gets inside Imclone saga

I worked with many of the people profiled in this well-written account of the Imclone scandal.

I worked with many of the people profiled in this well-written account of the Imclone scandal.

It chronicles how the scientific hustle and flow behind the development of Erbitux, a high-profile cancer drug, sent a CEO and Martha Stewart to jail, and exacerbated the troubles of my old employer, Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Through the rise and fall of Imclone CEO Sam Waksal, we see how spin was used to attract support from scientists and business leaders, and how the FDA rejected Erbitux's application.

Waksal traded on insider information and sent body blows to Imclone, Stewart, thousands of investors, and Bristol, which had invested billions in Imclone.

Crisis and issues-management stories abound. They tell of how the combination of message inconsistency and high profiles can be dangerous. The tale of Stewart's rise and fall in the media is of particular note to PR pros.

Imclone is now a tighter ship, and Erbitux is FDA-approved. That's key, because the people hurt the most were the cancer patients who needed the drug.

Title The Cell Game
Author Alex Prud'homme
Publisher HarperBusiness (February 2004), 412 pages
Reviewed by Jon Weisberg, Weisberg Communications Co.

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