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Live from the Support Group Leaders' Summit - Day Two: The Nitty Gritty

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This is an important day for the support group leaders here at the Summit. Today is the day that we get down to addressing the challenges of running a group.


Millennium                                      Celgene                                  Onyx

The day opened with a very interesting round robin. We broke up into groups and heard presentations on key myeloma drugs--what is available and what's in the pipeline--by three myeloma pharmaceutical companies: Celgene, Millennium, and Onyx.

I cannot tell you what Mark Allis, President of Celgene told us, because he asked us not to make anything public. But he did stress at breakfast that Celgene is committed to assisting patients who are having trouble paying for Revlimid. That I don't think he would mind having you all knowing.

Jeffrey Elbl, Medical Science Liaison for Millennium gave us an update on the Vista trial (Velcade upfront in newly diagnosed patients). Analysis after three years confirms the overall survival benefit of Velcade added to melphelan and prednisone. He did say that the results show that the overall survival is better if Velcade is in the mix at the beginning rather than adding it later. He then talked about Subcutaneous Velcade, which everyone was interested in. He talked about the Phase III trial to show that Sub-Q Velcade was not inferior to IV Velcade. And what the trial showed was that it was equivalent to IV Velcade in all aspects, effectiveness and side effects, except for one area: peripheral neuropathy (PN) was substantially lower. We knew this going into the session, but it was impressive to see the numbers.

The final session was with Dr. Joseph Leveque, VP of Medical and Scientific Affairs at Onyx. Neuropathy is clearly the boogieman here, because one of the major benefits of their drug carfilzomib, which has been fast-tracked by the FDA, is that it is nearly PN free. Add to that that it has a 19% response in patients refractory to Velcade. The ASPIRE trial (carfilzomib, revlimid and dex) is a currently-recruiting Phase III trial looking for progression free survival based on data from a successful earlier trial. Dr. Leveque also introduced Jennifer Sharretts, Head of Patient Access and Reimbursement, who talked about their Patient Access Solutions Program and their Enhanced Patients and Caregivers Service.

Time for a break and then on to the Large Groups/Small Groups session.

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