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Ontario Government Announces Reimbursement of Velcade* As First-Line Treatment For Newly-diagnosed Blood Cancer Patients


Myeloma Canada, Patients and Professionals Applaud Ontario for its Leadership in Providing Patients with Treatment Access

Toronto, ON .– Today, Ontarians diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a severely painful and fatal form of blood cancer, will have access to funding for VELCADE* (bortezomib), the first novel agent used as a first-line treatment for the disease. VELCADE is now listed on Cancer Care Ontario’s New Drug Funding Program (NDFP) Formulary after a positive recommendation from the Committee to Evaluate Drugs (CED) in Ontario. The CED also acts as an interim review body on behalf of the Joint Oncology Drug Review, a cross-jurisdictional review process for oncology drugs in all provinces except Quebec.

As a first-line therapy for patients who are not candidates for stem cell transplants, VELCADE is combined with the current standard of treatment – melphalan and prednisone (MP).1 The combination of VELCADE and MP has demonstrated improved efficacy compared to current standard of treatment alone.2 VELCADE received a Notice of Compliance from Health Canada in 2008 for first-line treatment of multiple myeloma1 and is marketed by Ortho Biotech, a division of Janssen-Ortho Inc.

“Multiple myeloma continues to increase in prevalence in Canada. It is essential that patients have access to the most effective and safest combination treatment that provides them with the best opportunity for survival,” said John Lemieux, President, Myeloma Canada.

Carolyn Henry, a multiple myeloma patient and leader of the London and District Myeloma Support Group knows firsthand the challenges of the disease. “Living with this cancer, I understand how important new treatment combinations are to maintaining my health and quality of life. Ontarians are fortunate to have access to VELCADE as a first-line treatment that will offer newly-diagnosed patients a new approach and renewed hope in fighting this tenacious disease.”

Addition of VELCADE Improves Overall Survival

The recommendation for funding was based on the findings of the “VELCADE as Initial Standard Therapy in Multiple Myeloma: Assessment with Melphalan and Prednisone” (VISTA) trial, which demonstrated that the addition of VELCADE to the current standard treatment significantly improved the time to progression of the disease, complete response to treatment and the treatment-free interval time.2 The VISTA study results showed that the overall survival rate, at 24 months, for myeloma patients was
82.6 per cent for patients who received VELCADE along with MP combination treatment compared to only 69.5 per cent for those who received MP combination alone.1

“As an oncologist, until now, I have diagnosed all too many patients with advanced stage myeloma who could have benefited from VELCADE as a first-line treatment,” said

Dr. Donna Reece, Hematologist, Toronto. “Today’s news will allow me to provide a highly effective, fast-acting treatment that will improve the life expectancy of my patients. As the new standard of first-line care, VELCADE and MP allows patients to experience longer treatment-free intervals so they can live fuller, more productive lives.”


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