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The International Myeloma Foundation, Marking 20 Years of Serving the Myeloma Community, Applauds, Members of the International Myeloma Working Group for Their Body of Work Being Presented at the ASH Hematology Conference
12.03.10

—Special Workshop forPatients and Caregivers Teaches Government Advocacy on Cancer-Related Issues—

North Hollywood, CA and Orlando, FL – December 3, 2010 – TheInternational Myeloma Foundation (IMF) today said this year's ASH hematology-oncology conference will highlight the work of researchers and clinicians from the major cancer centers and cooperative groups around the world, many of whom share their expertise through the International Myeloma Working Group (IMWG), the research arm of the IMF. Together, their work demonstrates far-reaching changes in treatment and improvements in outcome for patients with myeloma.

Key findings include: patients taking newer targeted drugs with fewer side effects are living longer and living better. This applies to both younger and elderly patients. Maturing data confirm that treating early and continuing treatment until the disease returns or progresses has an important role in myeloma treatment. The previous paradigm was to treat for a fixed period of time and then wait and see what happened. Research also shows that novel combinations of drugs are tolerable and effective, while drugs in development hold important potential as new options for patients who have exhausted current therapies. The American Society of Hematology (ASH) holds its 52nd annual meeting this year in Orlando from December 4th through 7th.

Key studies cited by the IMF include:

TREAT EARLY THROUGH TO PROGRESSION -

  • Updated data are expected to show clinically significant progression-free survival in older patients on continuous REVLIMID® treatment who are not eligible for transplant (abstract #622, 12/6, 3:30 pm). Multi-center studies update data to show longer-term advantages of continuing treatment with REVLIMID after transplant (U.S. National Cancer Institute/CALGB abstract #37, 12/5, 4:30 pm; Intergroupe Francophone du Myelome abstract #310, 12/6, 7:45 am).
  • Studies report progression-free survival and overall survival for patients with ongoing VELCADE® treatment following various induction regimens (The HOVON group abstract #40, 12/5, 5:15 pm). Also expected are data on progression-free survival in newly diagnosed patients continuing VELCADE treatment following VELCADE-based induction (abstract #312, 12/6, 8:15 am).
  • Carfilzomib, not yet approved for treatment, demonstrates advantages when used long term in clinical trials (abstract #1953, poster I-933, 12/4, 5:30 pm).
  • And for patients whose disease has progressed, the unique potential of new drugs in development is an encouraging option even when currently approved treatments have failed. Notably, several studies indicate that pomalidomide achieves clinically significant responses even in patients previously treated with a related drug, REVLIMID (Intergroupe Francophone du Myelome abstract #859, 12/6, 6:15 pm; abstract #863, 12/6, 7:15 pm).

The International Myeloma Working Group will issue guidelines for continuous treatment early in 2011 and there will be a journalists' workshop on this paradigm of treatment therapy at ASH on Monday evening, December 6th. For more information, please see contact information at the end of this release.

"These studies show us why even a complete response is not enough to maintain remission on its own," said Brian G.M. Durie, M.D., chairman and co-founder of the IMF. "They areshowing us that residual cancer genes may be left behind by even aggressive treatment, and why we need to keep them suppressed long term. These recent findings show how we can best use our arsenal of drugs that inhibit specific functions of the myeloma cells, and drugs that both kill the tumor and suppress the immune system, while we continue the search for a cure."

Other studies update findings on drug treatment (REVLIMID) as opposed to the more difficult stem cell transplant (#3573, 12/6, 6 pm); new drug delivery systems (subcutaneous injections compared to intravenous VELCADE) (#312, 12/6, 8:15 am); and the role of age in determining treatment (age is not a factor for survival advantage using low-dose dexamethasone with REVLIMID) (#308, 12/6, 7:15 am).

Susie Novis, president and co-founder of the IMF noted, "This marks our 20th year working on behalf of myeloma patients and their families. The research is encouraging, but it is only a benefit if patients can access the progress being reported here. That's why, right here at ASH, we are sponsoring an advocacy tutorial for patients and caregivers. They will join a grassroots effort underway to address state and federal legislators to get equal reimbursement for all drugs, oral and IV, and to make an effective case for other resources patients need and deserve."

For more information on the IMF advocacy program go to www.myeloma.org and click on the tab marked "advocacy."

ABOUT the InternationalMyeloma Foundation
The International Myeloma Foundation is the oldest and largest myeloma organization,reaching more than 195,000 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.

Contact: BioCom Partners
Los Angeles: Stephen Gendel 310-878-4652
New York: Jennifer Anderson 212-918-4642


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