Ontarians with rare cancer offered new hope



    
    New multiple myeloma treatment REVLIMID(R) to be covered by Ontario
    Public Drug Programs
    

    OAKVILLE, ON, Aug. 4 /CNW/ - Ontario residents with multiple myeloma, a
rare form of blood cancer, have received new hope with the decision by the
Ontario Public Drug Programs (OPDP) to pay for a new oral treatment for the
disease, REVLIMID (lenalidomide), from Celgene Corporation.
    This latest treatment advance has been shown to extend the overall
survival of multiple myeloma patients and slow the progression of the disease
for patients who have failed on other treatments.
    REVLIMID will be reimbursed for use in combination with dexamethasone,
for patients with multiple myeloma who are not candidates for autologous stem
cell transplant and are either refractory to or have relapsed after the
conclusion of initial or subsequent treatments and are suitable for further
chemotherapy; or have completed at least one full treatment regimen as initial
therapy and are experiencing intolerance to their current chemotherapy.
    "REVLIMID is helping patients live much longer and have a better quality
of life," says Dr. Suzanne Trudel, Assistant Professor of Medicine, University
of Toronto, Division of Medical Oncology/Hematology, at Princess Margaret
Hospital in Toronto. "The clinical data shows that patients treated with
REVLIMID and dexamethasone have superior response rates and for a longer
duration, experience slower progression of disease, and survive longer than we
have ever seen before. The Ontario government's decision to reimburse REVLIMID
means that many more patients in this province can now access this important
treatment."
    Multiple myeloma is a rare cancer, but recent statistics indicate an
increasing incidence and younger onset of the disease.(1),(2) Of the estimated
6,000 Canadians living with multiple myeloma, approximately 1,350 will die and
2,100 new patients will be diagnosed in Canada this year.(2) Though there is
currently no cure for multiple myeloma, recent treatment advances, such as
REVLIMID, continue to improve the prognosis of the disease and are
transforming multiple myeloma into a manageable chronic disease and improving
patient quality of life.
    "REVLIMID is a miracle drug. It has revolutionized the care for multiple
myeloma patients," says Carolyn Henry, diagnosed with the disease in 2000.
"Before REVLIMID, there were few treatments for people with multiple myeloma -
the diagnosis was devastating and our future was bleak. Today, our outlook is
dramatically different as REVLIMID gives us a greater quality of life, more
independence and more time with our families. In fact, the treatment allowed
me to realize one of my dreams, to be at my daughter's side when she graduated
from university."
    This decision by the Ontario government underlines both Ontario and
Celgene's strong commitment to people living with multiple myeloma, their
families and caregivers. Celgene will continue to work with other provincial
governments to ensure that all patients with multiple myeloma across the
country have access to this vital medicine.
    "Provinces like Ontario and British Columbia, which have made REVLIMID
available to patients since April, 2009, are showing leadership by funding
this life-extending treatment," says John Lemieux, President of Myeloma
Canada. "Public access to treatments such as REVLIMID is absolutely critical
to patient survival and to improving their quality of life. Ensuring that all
people with multiple myeloma in Canada have access to the best treatments
available is what will help move this cancer from the fatal and incurable
column to the column of treatable and survivable cancers. We will continue
urging all other provinces to follow the lead of Ontario and British
Columbia."

    About Multiple Myeloma

    Myeloma, also called multiple myeloma, is an incurable but treatable
cancer characterized by excessive numbers of abnormal plasma cells in the bone
marrow. Plasma cells are an important part of the immune system that produce
antibodies to fight infection and disease. The disease may cause damage to
bone structure, resulting in frequent fractures. It can cause severe fatigue,
recurrent infections and bone pain. It may also prevent organs and nerves from
working properly. It affects an estimated 750,000 people worldwide, and in
industrialized countries it is being diagnosed in growing numbers and in
increasingly younger people.

    About REVLIMID

    REVLIMID is an IMiDs(R) compound, a member of a proprietary group of
novel immunomodulatory agents. REVLIMID and other IMiDs compounds continue to
be evaluated in over 100 clinical trials in a broad range of hematological and
oncological conditions.

    About Celgene

    Celgene Corporation is an integrated global biopharmaceutical company
engaged primarily in the discovery, development and commercialization of novel
therapies for the treatment of cancer and inflammatory diseases through gene
and protein regulation. For more information, please visit the company's
website at www.celgene.com.
    REVLIMID is a registered trademark of Celgene Corporation.

    
    References:
    ---------------------------------
    (1) National Cancer Institute. A snapshot of Myeloma. Available at:
        http://planning.cancer.gov/disease/Myeloma-Snapshot.pdf Accessed
        February 17, 2009.
    (2) Myeloma Canada: Cause and Incidence;
       http://www.myelomacanada.ca/en/incidence_prevalence.htm?t=1
        Accessed February 17, 2009.
    





For further information:

For further information: FOR MEDIA INTERVIEWS, PLEASE CONTACT: Rosalind
O'Connell, Hill and Knowlton Canada, (416) 413-4773,
rosalind.oconnell@hillandknowlton.ca; Geneviéve Déry, HKDP, (514) 395-0375,
gdery@hkdp.qc.ca

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