In the fight against cancer, do Quebeckers stand the same chance?

MONTREAL, July 3, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - A promising new drug for the treatment of indolent non-Hodgkin lymphoma (iNHL) has not had its therapeutic value recognized by the body responsible for deciding whether a drug will be reimbursed in Quebec. The Institut national d'excellence en santé et en services sociaux (INESSS) refused to recommend that bendamustine be added to the updated list of medication eligible for utilization in Quebec hospitals.

INESSS's decision goes against the most recent clinical evidence and of accepted standard medical practices in Europe, in the United States and in all the Canadian provinces, except Quebec.

"This decision could have a major impact for Quebec patients, since bendamustine combined with rituximab, is the only new treatment since the introduction of rituximab to have demonstrated a significant clinical improvement for patients living with an indolent non-Hodgkin lymphoma," stated Dr Pierre Laneuville, hematologist at the Royal Victoria Hospital. "The rate of progression-free survival for patients who received bendamustine in combination with rituximab rose from 31.2 months to 69.5 months (almost 6 years). In fact, its effectiveness is superior and achieved with less toxicity. This drug combination causes fewer side effects and is better tolerated by patients. Bendamustine in combination with rituximab is a cost-effective treatment."

Mrs. Tracey-Ann Curtis, Regional Manager (Quebec) for Lymphoma Canada, believes that INESSS should review its position to not recommend bendamustine for the treatment of iNHL patients in Quebec, supporting a request submitted by Dr Pierre Laneuville and endorsed by approximately 30 hematologist-oncologists in Quebec.

"For iNHL patients, the arrival of bendamustine offers hope to have significantly longer periods without treatment and over 3 years of longer remission versus existing therapies.  Having access to a new treatment like bendamustine gives new options to doctors and a hope of much longer remission to patients," says Mrs. Curtis. "Quebeckers deserve the same chances as all other Canadians in their battle against cancer."

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About Lymphoma Canada

Lymphoma affects many people, from patients and survivors, family and caregivers, to medical professionals and researchers. Lymphoma Canada connects and empowers this community through education, support and research. Together we are promoting early detection, finding new and better treatments, helping patients access those treatments, learning lymphoma's many causes and finding a cure. For more information about this registered charity, please visit

SOURCE: Lymphome Canada

For further information:

Geneviève Guérard
514 245-1474

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