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.