Extraordinary Measures: Harrison Ford Biotech Movie Gets Mixed Reviews

Last Updated Jan 29, 2010 1:24 AM EST

It appears not too many biotech folks -- or any folks for that matter -- made it to the movies last weekend to see Extraordinary Measures.Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser
The film, which cost $31 million to make but recouped just $7 million last weekend, is based on the true story of biotech CEO John Crowley. When two of his children were diagnosed with the fatal, untreatable neuromuscular disorder Pompe disease, Crowley founded Novazyme Pharmaceuticals, developed a Pompe drug and sold his company to Genzyme (GENZ), which later brought a Pompe treatment to market.

Crowley told CNBC's Mike Huckman that the movie is scientifically accurate, although the timeline was compressed and some characters were combined. But Genzyme made a few clarifications on its web site, specifically noting that its approved Pompe drug Myozyme (alglucosidase alfa) was developed internally and prioritized over Novazyme's candidate, although a second-generation drug similar to Novazyme's is in the works.

Crowley is working on next-generation Pompe drugs, too, now as CEO of biotech Amicus Therapeutics (FOLD). While Myozyme replaces the enzyme that is lacking in Pompe patients, Amicus' drug binds and stabilizes the enzyme.

So what did the American people think of a movie that lauds rather than loathes drug companies? Despite the weak opening, they gave it an A-minus, and there's hope sales will be slow and steady. Reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes have been less kind, however, giving it an average rating of 4.5 out of 10. The Chicago Reader said it feels like a TV movie, and USA Today called it tedious, but the New York Times said it was satisfying and the Boston Globe called it a wrenching tale.

Aside from the made-for-TV movie comments, most reviewers either picked it or panned it for the exact same reason: its scientific accuracy and inside look at the world of building and funding a biotech company. Some found that boring, but I bet most biotech folks will find it fascinating.

Can't wait to see it--

  • Trista Morrison

    Trista Morrison is a staff writer at BioWorld Today, a daily newspaper that