Patients in the UK, Canada and Elsewhere Working toward Rapid Agreement on Reimbursement for REVLIMID®
"We support efforts that put patients first… and work for better outcomes until there is a cure," Susie Novis, IMF President
North Hollywood, CA and Würzburg, Germany - November 6, 2008 - The International Myeloma Foundation (IMF)—supporting research and providing education, advocacy and support for myeloma patients, families, researchers and physicians—today called for all patients to have access to the newest pharmaceuticals making life-changing advances in the treatment of myeloma.
REVLIMID®, THALOMID® (global thalidomide) and VELCADE®, known collectively as the "novel therapies," have extended survival and improved quality of life for patients with the blood cancer multiple myeloma. In the current issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, IMF chairman Brian G.M. Durie, M.D., notes that with REVLIMID (lenalidomide), "there is essentially a doubling of survival at two years (compared to earlier treatments), with preliminary evidence that this survival will be maintained for at least three to four years."
The International Myeloma Foundation applauded proposed changes just announced in the UK for the NHS (National Health Service) to increase the range of drug prices considered cost effective and to allow patients to go outside of the NHS for pharmaceutical treatments without losing their rights to government care. REVLIMID was also recently approved in Canada and patients are waiting for a decision from the provinces to provide reimbursement.
"We support efforts that put patients first, support healthcare advances and work for better outcomes until there is a cure," said Susie Novis, president and co-founder of the IMF. "While we understand that cost of treatment is always a consideration, we believe society pays a higher price when the most vulnerable people among us—patients with a deadly disease—are denied access to transformational therapeutics that can prolong their lives, maintain the quality of their lives and restore many of these patients to productive roles within their jobs and with their families."
In April, a study reported at the British Society for Haematology Annual Meeting demonstrated that REVLIMID has the ability to add years to myeloma patients' lives, and that these years fall within the quality-adjusted life years, or QALY guidelines. QALY is a measurement of cost-effectiveness of a drug based on quality of life achieved, not just the number of years.
Dr. Durie adds: "When considering the cost of a drug, it is important to consider the cost of alternatives. Stem cell transplants, which are still a mainstay of treatment for multiple myeloma, may cost substantially more than drug therapy, while they carry potential risks yet for some patients provide no greater benefits."
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. It cannot be cured, however drugs used in combination and in sequence can provide extended remissions that can be measured in years, not just weeks or months.
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.