--Manufacturer Will Cover Long-Term Costs of the Drug--
--Plan Works for All Parties: Patients, the Company and Government Reimbursement Agencies--
North Hollywood, CA and Würzburg, Germany - February 2, 2009 - The International Myeloma Foundation (IMF)—supporting research and providing education, advocacy and support for myeloma patients, families, researchers and physicians—today expressed support for an innovative proposal to give patients access to REVLIMID® in the UK, an example of how a government agency can strike a balance between cost and value for cancer treatments that extend survival and lessen the overall burden on the healthcare system.
REVLIMID is an oral drug that has been shown to lengthen life, often by years, and improve quality of life for patients with the blood cancer multiple myeloma, without the debilitating side effects that have typically been associated with chemotherapy. Under the preliminary plan announced by NICE, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, REVLIMID (plus the steroid dexamethasone) would be approved in the UK for patients who have been treated with at least two previous drug regimens. However, the manufacturer CELGENE will cover the cost of the drug for remissions lasting more than about two years (26 cycles of treatment, 28 days each) after the start of REVLIMID treatment. This approach covers long-term costs and eliminates budget uncertainties for the government.
"We support this plan because it builds on a positive approach to treatment, supporting the long-term value of REVLIMID and its potential for success, not the risk of possible failures," said Susie Novis, president and co-founder of the IMF. "This plan will allow the government to budget for reimbursement, while it continues to encourage innovation and research to discover and develop new drugs."
The REVLIMID approach builds on changes announced in the UK for the NHS (National Health Service) to pay more for drugs considered cost-effective based on increased survival and quality of life. Multiple clinical studies have demonstrated that REVLIMID extends survival, and in 2008, a study reported at the British Society for Haematology Annual Meeting documented that REVLIMID not only has the ability to add years to myeloma patients' lives, but years that represent a good quality of life.
Other companies have proposed a variety of risk-sharing plans. Some bring their drugs in line with comparable treatments. In the case of VELCADE, another myeloma treatment, the European distributor charges for the drug only when there is a positive outcome.
Brian G.M. Durie, M.D., chairman and co-founder of the IMF added: "We are pleased to see biopharmaceutical companies and government agencies working closely together to provide patients with access to important new drugs based on their value, not just their cost."
Myeloma, also called multiple myeloma, is a cancer of cells in the bone marrow that affect production of blood cells and can damage bone. Myeloma 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 185,000 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 in four key areas: research, education, support, and advocacy. To date, the IMF has conducted more than 200 educational seminars worldwide, maintains a world-renowned hotline, and operates Bank on a Cure®, a unique gene bank to advance myeloma research. The IMF can be reached at (800) 452-CURE. The global website is www.myeloma.org.