Parents Win the First Leg of the Race to Yes

Getting the government to just do its job. That’s the kind of battle where WSW’s seasoned team is most often deployed.

When a national coalition of parent advocates found themselves at a complete impasse with the FDA, they engaged the government relations professionals at WSW, and later enlisted its sister communications firm, Princeton Strategic Communications, to deliver a clear, unified message to decision makers.

WSW devised and executed the intricate, “inside the beltway” strategy aimed at Capitol Hill decision makers and influencers, while PSC provided air support in print, TV, and social media – a seamless, coordinated approach.

Building a National Brand

The Race to Yes

About 1 in 3,600 boys born in the U.S. confronts the harsh reality of Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a degenerative muscle disease that is the world’s #1 genetic killer of children. With the first promising treatment ever for this disease in limbo at the FDA, WSW and PSC helped advocacy groups organize and build a national campaign aimed at saving a generation of children.

The multi-front effort aimed at Congress, the White House, and the FDA was geared at providing the clearest and quickest pathway for accelerated approval of an effective Duchenne treatment.

WSW organized a Hill briefing where staffers from over 100 congressional offices each held a picture of a child with Duchenne while they heard from leading scientific experts and mothers of boys battling this disease. Their message: we have an urgent need, and this drug is safe and effective.

The White House Petition

White House Petition

By engaging social media and earned media, the campaign successfully gathered over 100,000 signatures at the White House petition site in less than 30 days, raised widespread national attention in the media regarding this urgent issue, and helped open a promising way forward at the FDA for families facing Duchenne.

The entire process was coordinated with WSW’s strategic leadership—monitoring backchannel communication, anticipating trends, and coordinating hundreds of stakeholders and grassroots leaders.

On April 21, 2014, less than two months after the launch of The Race to Yes campaign, the FDA laid out a pathway for accelerated approval of a safe and effective Duchenne therapy.

Parents heralded the move as one major victory in a marathon struggle for thousands of Duchenne families. For WSW, the fight to inaugurate a generation of therapy for Duchenne and the rare disease community continues.