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December 2000 Volume 4, Issue 2:
By Stephanie Colman
The IMF presented its first Quality of life awards at its tenth anniversary gala

October 27, 2000 not only marked the 10th anniversary of the International Myeloma Foundation, it also provided an opportunity to launch the IMF Quality of Life Awards, an honor given to an individual whose personal mission, as seen through the work that they do, mirrors that of the IMF: to improve the quality of life of myeloma patients while working toward prevention and a cure.

The first-ever Quality of Life Awards were presented to Novartis’ John Seaman, executive director of clinical research, oncology and Werner Osterwalder, global brand manager, Aredia®, John Jackson, chairman and CEO of Celgene Corporation, and Prof. Herbert Fleisch, the researcher who is credited with first discovering the benefits of bisphosphonates in treating myeloma patients.

For Prof. Herbert Fleisch and John Seaman, their awards represented a team effort. As Prof. Fleisch realized the potential benefits of bisphosphonates for myeloma patients, John Seaman, with the help of Novartis, was able to help take Fleisch’s discovery out of the laboratory setting and get it in the hands of patients, as what is today known as Aredia®.

Werner Osterwalder was honored for his role in helping the IMF bring its educational Patient & Family Seminars to an international audience. Based in Switzerland, Osterwalder quickly saw a need for IMF information to have an expanded international reach. Now, with the help of Osterwalder and Novartis, the IMF has hosted international Patient & Family Seminars throughout the U.K., in Australia, Germany and Switzerland and has attended and presented information during major medical meetings in cities around the world.

“We are truly honored to present Quality of Life Awards to Prof. Fleisch, Seaman and Osterwalder,” said Susie Novis. “They work they do is not easy; there can be many challenges when working in research and in the pharmaceutical industry. However, the rewards can be tremendous and it’s clear that this is the driving force behind their efforts. Like the IMF, they truly care about the lives of the patients, and that’s why we’re honoring them.”

The final Quality of Life Award was presented to John Jackson, chairman & CEO of the Celgene Corporation. Jackson was honored for having the courage to investigate what benefits thalidomide might offer myeloma patients. While the drug is most often remembered for the birth defects it caused in the 60s, thalidomide is being used experimentally to treat myeloma patients, and for many, has led to very promising results.

“It is our great pleasure to present a Quality of Life Award to John Jackson,” Novis said. “Celgene saw the potential of this drug for myeloma patients and took a risk in bringing the drug back. But oftentimes, the biggest risks bring the greatest rewards, and the ability to extend a patient’s life, because of thalidomide, is the best reward of all.”

The Quality of Life Awards were very well received by both the honorees and our members, and as a result the IMF plans to honor select individuals on a yearly basis.

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