- New Program Developed Following Meetings to Address Patient Questions and Concerns -
North Hollywood, CA, April 16, 2007 -- The International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) - supporting research and providing education, advocacy and support for myeloma patients, families, researchers and physicians - today applauded CELGENE for establishing the new "Patient Support Coordinator" program. Patient Support Coordinators are oncology nurses and other trained professionals available by phone to help patients work their way through the complexities of drug access and reimbursement. The program was developed following a series of meetings where the IMF had the opportunity to raise patient concerns about access to cancer drugs, reimbursement by Medicare and private insurance, co-pay assistance from foundations and free access to drugs for the uninsured.
"The newest drugs are dramatically improving the outlook for myeloma, but they can help patients only if they have access to them," said Susie Novis, president and co-founder of the International Myeloma Foundation. "Our own professional Hotline documented growing concerns about reimbursement and drug access especially with complex changes in Medicare part D. We thank CELGENE for listening to these concerns and responding with this new support program."
The Patient Support Coordinator program will provide patients with a direct connection to trained professionals within the company to help answer their questions and resolve issues concerning drug access: reimbursement, Medicare, co-pay assistance programs and the CELGENE free drug program for patients who are uninsured and underinsured. The program was developed following a meeting last year between Susie Novis, IMF chairman Brian G.M. Durie, M.D., and CELGENE senior management, and subsequent conference calls with CELGENE representatives and the IMF's own Hotline professionals who hear directly from patients about their concerns. The PSC program was unveiled at the IMF meeting in Phoenix for leaders of myeloma support groups nationwide as well as from France and Canada.
"I believe CELGENE has really stepped up to the plate with this program," said Michael Tuohy of Prospect, Connecticut. "I'm a patient myself, leader of the Connecticut regional support group and my wife Robin is regional director of patient support groups for the IMF, so I know first hand the stress a patient can feel when you are afraid you won't have access to a life saving drug because you can't afford the insurance deductible. Too often patients are told they don't qualify for assistance, or there is no money available for them. That's why we are very appreciative when companies care enough to help us work our way through the system to find the resources we may desperately need."
Myeloma, also called multiple myeloma, is a cancer of 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 in numbers and in increasingly younger people. There is no cure, but by using new therapies sequentially and in combination, doctors are moving myeloma toward becoming a chronic disease.
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 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 with a companion Website in Spanish at www.myelomala.org.
International Myeloma Foundation
800 452 2873
Stephen Gendel, BioCom Partners, New York
212 918 4650