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The International Myeloma Foundation Supports Legislation to Require Equal Insurance Reimbursement for Oral Cancer Drugs

Hartford, CT and North Hollywood, CA, February 18, 2010 – The International Myeloma Foundation (IMF), the oldest and largest foundation dedicated to improving the life and care of myeloma patients, supports legislation being considered in Connecticut and other states that will require private insurance companies to cover oral anti-cancer drugs at comparable rates to coverage for intravenous infusions and other procedures. Currently provisions in many policies require a much greater co-payment for oral drugs. On behalf of patients and caregivers, the IMF supports steps to mandate equitable coverage for patients based on therapeutic benefit, not based how the drug is administered.

“New therapies, both oral and intravenous, have made a dramatic difference advancing the treatment of multiple myeloma, yet they are not reimbursed at the same rates,” said Susie Novis, President and co-founder of the IMF. “This means many patients have had to forego getting the drug that’s optimal for their treatment, or they’ve had to go into debt to meet the co-payments required. We question a system that reimburses the least for the most cost-effective treatments.”

Michael Tuohy a Connecticut resident and a 10-year myeloma survivor testified along with his wife Robin in support of equitable insurance coverage before that state Senate Insurance and Real Estate Committee. Michael told the committee that with new drugs he leads an active, productive life and has experienced years of remission. His wife Robin says all patients should have insurance coverage like Michael’s that allows him and his doctor to design the most effective treatment plan for his myeloma regardless of how the therapy is administered.

Multiple myeloma is a cancer of cells in the bone marrow. Once a rare disease of the elderly, multiple myeloma is being diagnosed in growing numbers and in increasingly younger people. Each year approximately 20-thousand new cases are diagnosed in the United States. New treatments have extended remissions for many patients, measured in years not months, with a good quality of life.

“The IMF believes patients should be able to take advantage of the treatment that is best for them and not have to select their treatment based on insurance coverage,” said Brian G.M. Durie, M.D., Chairman and co-founder of the IMF. “As a practicing hematologist-oncologist, I need the freedom to prescribe therapies based on their potential efficacy. Something is very wrong when the largest side effect is economic, based upon inequitable and irrational differences in reimbursement.”

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: GL BioCom Partners
Los Angeles: Stephen Gendel 212-918-4655
New York: Jennifer Anderson 212-918-4642

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