--IMF Calls for Rapid Approval of Reimbursement throughout the E.U.--
North Hollywood, CA, USA, and Brussels, Belgium, June 19, 2007 -- The International Myeloma Foundation (IMF)—supporting research and providing education, advocacy and support for myeloma patients, families, researchers and physicians—today applauded the EMEA decision to grant marketing authorization for REVLIMID® (lenalidomide) for use in multiple myeloma. REVLIMID is the newest of a group of treatments together called novel therapies that are changing the course of treatment for myeloma. With today's action REVLIMID is now approved in Europe for myeloma patients who have received at least one prior therapy.
"Until we have a cure for multiple myeloma we need a strong arsenal of drugs that we can use in combination and in sequence to maintain remission, and REVLIMID is a powerful addition to that arsenal," said Brian G.M. Durie, M.D., chairman and co-founder of the IMF. "In fact it is so powerful that we are now considering medical options for newly diagnosed patients, in place of costly and debilitating bone marrow transplants that until now have been a standard of care."
REVLIMID, an oral drug from Celgene, has been approved in the United States (along with a steroid) for previously treated myeloma patients since June 2006, and for certain patients with malignant blood disorders called myelodysplastic syndromes since December 2005.
"We have seen the benefits of an expanded arsenal of drugs in the United States for more than a year, and we call upon the member nations of the E.U. to rapidly include REVLIMID in their local formularies to make it available for reimbursement," said Susie Novis, president and co-founder of the IMF. "Physicians here in Europe are telling us that they want REVLIMID and patients are telling us they need it. Here are some examples."
- "Many patients with limited options are urgently waiting for a new and effective therapeutic strategy." Dr. Antonio Palumbo, IMF Scientific Advisory Board, and the Univ. of Torino, Italy.
- "The possibility of using REVLIMID gives us new perspectives in treating patients." Dr. Felipe Prosper, University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain.
- My mother has had several bad side effects from her current treatment. We wait impatiently for REVLIMID." Emmanuelle Peckre, on behalf of her mother in France.
- "We have been hoping my husband could get REVLIMID. His doctor says it is less toxic, but it is not available yet here in Sweden." Tytti Kvam, Sweden.
To support and empower myeloma patients in Europe, the IMF will conduct Patient and Family Seminars in France and Italy in September, Spain in October and Germany in November. The IMF is also participating in medical meetings in Greece and Russia, and participated in the recently concluded EHA meeting in Austria. The IMF works closely with the European Myeloma Platform (EMP), a patient-based advocacy organization in Europe, helping to secure local reimbursement approvals.
"We have been working to make REVLIMID available here in Europe as soon as possible, because as I can personally attest, for many patients like myself, REVLIMID may be their best remaining option," said Rolf Pelzing, EMP vice chairperson.
Myeloma, also called multiple myeloma, is a cancer of cells in the bone marrow that affects production of red cells, white cells and stem cells. It affects an estimated 750,000 people worldwide, and in industrialized countries it is being diagnosed in growing numbers and in increasingly younger people.
ABOUT The International Myeloma Foundation
The International Myeloma Foundation is the oldest and largest myeloma organization, reaching more than 135,000 members in 113 countries worldwide. A 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of myeloma patients and their families, the IMF focuses on four key areas: research, education, support and advocacy. To date, the IMF has conducted more than 100 educational seminars worldwide, maintains a world-renowned hotline, and operates Bank on a CureÂ®, a unique gene bank to advance myeloma research. The IMF can be reached at +1-818-487-7455. The global Website is www.myeloma.org with a companion Website in Spanish at www.myelomala.org.
MEDIA: Stephen Gendel, BioCom Partners, +1-212-918-4650