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Helping Make Patients’ Wishes Come True

September 14, 2017
Earlier this year, Bristol-Myers Squibb provided a $1.25 million grant to Make-A-Wish® America to help grant up to 100 life-changing wishes for children with cancer and to help fund educational outreach to health care providers about the importance of these wishes as a way to encourage more referrals.

The contribution coincides with a ground-breaking study that has shown a wish experience can not only influence a child’s emotional health, but can also play a role in their physical health, working together with traditional medicine to help children get better.

One of the goals that we share with Make-A-Wish is to enable more children to experience the hope and positivity that can result from a wish come true.

The work Make-A-Wish does to help improve the lives of children diagnosed with critical illnesses and their families inspires us at BMS in the work we do every day. Our focus on the patient is central to our core values. Each of our employees is committed to our work to make better the lives of the patients we serve every day.

Our medicines are helping millions of patients around the world in disease areas such as oncology, cardiovascular, immunoscience and fibrosis. We are proud to support organizations like Make-A-Wish that provide hope, inspiration and happiness to patients as they fight against serious diseases.

One such patient is named Alexis – a 15-year-old Floridian who loves Harry Potter stories and dreams of one day becoming a surgeon, inspired by the caring doctors who helped treat her ovarian cancer.

When wish granters from Make-A-Wish met with Alexis, she chose a trip to the United Kingdom, the fictional birthplace of Harry Potter and the real life headquarters of the prestigious Oxford Royal Academy summer school. Specifically, Alexis wished to learn more about the healthcare industry by participating in a two-week Introduction to Medicine course at historic Oxford University, where she would study alongside students from around the world.

When it came time to grant her wish, Make-A-Wish reached out to employees at the BMS North America Capability Center in Tampa who offered to host a send-off party that would start her trip. This was the first time BMS has worked with Make-A-Wish in helping to celebrate a wish.

When her big day arrived, Alexis and her family were greeted at the BMS entrance by employees dressed as palace guards, a town crier, a Beefeater and a prince. A bejeweled crown was placed upon her head, and she was declared "Princess Alexis."

Alexis and her mother spoke to employees at a Town Hall event, followed by a traditional British luncheon. Employee volunteers decked out the café with a 7-foot high Big Ben clock tower, four 9-foot Union Jack flags, a 5-foot replica of the Parliament building and skyline of London. As the event ended, Alexis was escorted out past 300 cheering BMS Tampa employees waving flags.

I don’t know whose dream really came true that day – Alexis or the BMS employees who saw first-hand that what they do for patients matters, that their work can improve the life of a person with cancer, that they truly can make a difference.

That’s what BMS is all about.
Next month BIO will host the Patient and Health Advocacy Summit, an annual event that brings together stakeholders for timely policy discussions and best practice seminars. This is the second in a series of guest blogs highlighting efforts by BIO members to bring the patient voice into the discovery, development and delivery of life-saving medicines.

About the Author:

Chris Boerner joined Bristol-Myers Squibb in February 2015 as Head of the U.S. In this role he is responsible for all commercial operations in the U.S.

Dr. Boerner joined Bristol-Myers Squibb from Seattle Genetics, where he most recently served as Executive Vice President, Commercial, overseeing all sales, marketing, managed markets and market planning activities. Prior to Seattle Genetics, Dr. Boerner spent more than eight years at Genentech, where he served in a variety of commercial roles, including Director of Marketing for Avastin and Director of Avastin franchise strategy. He also served as a core member of Genentech’s oncology leadership team. During his career, Dr. Boerner has held leadership roles across multiple disease areas, including solid tumor oncology, lymphoma and immunology.

Dr. Boerner received his Ph.D. and M.A. in Business Administration from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, and holds an A.B. in Economics and History from Washington University in St. Louis.