“Let me tell you an anecdote, and this I think is important,” begins Dr. Helen Torley, president and CEO of Halozyme Therapeutics. The subject of the upcoming feature article in Life Science Leader’s January 2019 issue, Torley was sharing about her passion for cancer drug development, when she recalled a previous experience. “I was at Onyx Pharmaceuticals, and I helped somebody who worked for another pharma company, based in the UK,” she remembers. “His father was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, and the drug we had developed at Onyx (i.e., Kyprolis), wasn’t available in the UK at that time.” But through the company’s early access program Torley was able to get him “early access and appropriate use of the drug.” A few years later, while working at Halozyme, she recalls receiving a note which stated, “My dad had to stop Kyprolis six months ago.” Apparently, his father had been on the medication for about 18 months. He went on to say, “But he was then able to go on daratumumab, and after six months had a complete response, and no longer has active disease. Without Kyprolis and your help, my father would have likely died and never had the chance to have this complete response to daratumumab, which turned out to be the drug he needed.”
“I felt so happy,” shares Torley. “This is what we are trying to do, give every benefit that keeps patients living just a little bit longer, so they have a chance for someone to discover the drug that’s just right for their disease.” The CEO says that at the time Halozyme had about five people working in oncology. “We were recruiting moving people to new roles and so I shared the note with everyone, as I wanted them to understand why what we do can make such a difference,” she states.
For every all-hands meeting at Halozyme, Torley says the company tries to bring in a patient to share their story with employees. “Everyone needs to understand why every effort we make makes a huge difference for patients,” she emphasizes. “Every moment counts, and we need to bring it every day, because these patients know time is short. When you’re in the business we are, keeping everybody in the company connected to the mission of patients is pivotal, because it matters, and employees really respond to that,” she concludes.