Saturday, June 27, 2009

Dinner with Lowell P. Weicker, Jr.

Former Governor Lowell P. Weicker. Jr.

Last night, Sean and I went to our favorite Italian pizza place, Alforno’s, and were seated next to the former Governor, Lowell Weicker and his wife, Claudia. We have seen him before at Alforno’s, since it is a popular place on the shoreline for great Italian food.

The seating at Alforno’s is very conducive to conversation and eventually Sean thanked the Governor for campaign advice he had gotten through a mutual friend and Sean’s campaign manager from the Governor. The advice was: “shake more hands than your competitor does”. Sean told the Governor, that he shook fewer hands and got creamed. They laughed and Claudia said “You must have run against ---.” She had named his opponent exactly correctly. Amazing!

Then she turned to me and asked what I do. I said that currently I am disabled, but that I used to work for Bristol-Myers Squibb. She asked what I did for them. I answered that I was a clinical research manager and I worked on the approvals for Taxol in ovarian and breast cancers, as well as in Kaposi’s sarcoma, and Videx in pediatric and adult AIDS in the US and Canada which was only the second drug approved after AZT. Sean mentioned that I managed an expanded access program to over 30,000 patients in the US and traveled all over the country visiting AIDS clinics.

Lowell conveyed a story at that point at the time in the late 80’s when he was a Republican Senator for Connecticut and Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. The night before he brought the budget to the floor for consideration, he had a phone call from an AIDS patient who told him about a new drug, AZT that was promising in AIDS patients but clinical trials were not being funded. He had never heard of it, so he called Anthony Fauci at the NIH about it to see if it was the real deal.

Anthony Fauci, M.D.

When Dr. Fauci said that it was, Lowell asked how much money would be needed for clinical trials. Dr. Fauci said it would cost $46 million to bring the drug to FDA for approval. Lowell said he immediately called his assistant to have a bill written up to get the funds needed for the trials allocated and bring the bill to the Senate floor - on a day that Jesse Helms would not be there, because ultra conservative Helms would kill it for sure.

He said “When I was growing up, you never asked someone how they got ill. You just found out how to make them better.”

What can you say to a man like Lowell Weicker? We tried to say it all.

A year or so later he was defeated by Democrat Joe Leiberman and two years later ran for Governor as an Independent and won.


Pick said...

Men like him come around far too rarely. A true gentleman and obviously an intelligent one. Amazing post Sue. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I did nothing like you, Sue
but I volunteered as a buddy
for people affected with the HIV virus back when it was kind of hard
to get volunteers. People were afraid I suppose but I never really was. I read took training as I feel knowledge is power. After 12
years of volunteering I burnt out
for lack of other words due to pressures in my own life and the
many demands back then made on me
by my buddies as you would be aware
there were so many health and financial issues as they began
to manifest more symptoms of the illness and drugs therapy etc were
still not that many.
I do however still think of all the wonderful people I met who
had great courage and determnation.
They helped me way more then I helped them. It was quite bizarre
on how I felt guilt when I no
longer volunteered.

Thank you for your research and
Im glad to hear you had input
with your Canadian colleagues.

We had a cold front sweep through yesterday and it poured rain. Today the sun is up and we are
getting ready for Canada Day on July 1. We are all going to the
Gimli on Lake Winnipeg to the family cottage and have a nice day.
That is if my nerves dont play up.
Am inclined to suffer from free floating anxiety and they especially do if we are to go out and have a nice time. Think I
watched to many Woody Allen movies

Your Prairie friend


Sue said...

Hi Jim, Yeah, burn out can happen with people who work directly with patients. I have seen it myself, you are on the front line having to give the bad news, or soften the bad news. I knew a nurse who had to tell a patient that he had to lose his leg because of KS lesions. She was crying her eyes out. I did a stint on pediatric AIDS once (1989), and once was enough. It was just too, too sad and we were just reading the charts. Sorry it happened to you. But think of all the people you helped over that 12 years!

Yes, the Canadian filing was a super idea that our mostly European management had, all we had to do was file the same paperwork up there in a different format and the approval was automatic with the US. We just couldn't figure out why no one else had thought of it before.

I hope you have a wonderful Canada Day!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Sue,

I thought you might like this song
on You Tube. Being computer challenged I can just send you the Url.

Your Prairie Friend


Sue said...

Jim, I love Joni and the video is beautiful. Looks like it was shot around your neck of the woods. Is that you in it by any chance?

Anonymous said...

No not me and i think it was shot
in Oregon.

I love the words to that song.
Its just how I feel when winter
comes around again.

Im off to London next week
to visit relatives and Im going
on a walking tour of Cornwall and Devon Counties.
That should be something. I hope they have ambulance driving along behind me. ha.

Your Prairie friend