THE MDS FOUNDATION SAYS PUBLISHED DATA CONFIRMS VIDAZA® SIGNIFICANTLY EXTENDS SURVIVAL IN PATIENTS WITH THE MALIGNANT CONDITION MDS
VIDAZA Restores Gene Function to Double Survival and Increase Transfusion Independence
Crosswicks, NJ (February 18, 2009) /PRNewswire/ — The Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS) Foundation says data published in the peer reviewed medical journal The Lancet Oncology confirms VIDAZA extends survival for patients with higher-risk MDS. Myelodysplastic syndromes are a group of blood-related malignancies that are difficult to treat and in higher-risk patients have a median survival rate of less than one year. Symptoms include anemia and fatigue, and often patients must rely on blood transfusions to manage the symptoms. VIDAZA, also known by its chemical name, azacitidine, represents a new approach to treatment with important benefits for patients with MDS, and a related condition called acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
"The data from this large international study of VIDAZA is important news for the patients we represent, validating a new treatment option and offering tangible results for this difficult-to-treat disease," said Kathy Heptinstall, Operating Director of the Myelodysplastic Syndromes Foundation.
"VIDAZA was able to essentially double survival at two years compared to conventional care," says Lewis Silverman, M.D., of Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York and senior study author. "VIDAZA is the first and only drug that we know extends survival."
In MDS, genes responsible for orderly growth and development of cells in the bone marrow are turned off or silenced, allowing the cells to become malignant. VIDAZA turns these genes back on through a system of actions called epigenetics, a new approach to cancer treatment. It is also the first drug to achieve transfusion independence in more than 40% of patients. Transfusions can be time consuming, debilitating and run the risk of iron overload that can be fatal.
MDS patient Bob Urbanski notes, "I needed blood transfusions as often as twice a month, but with VIDAZA I haven't needed a transfusion for at least 14 weeks."
The published data refer specifically to categories of MDS known as intermediate-2 or high-risk MDS, as well as AML with 20 to 30 percent bone marrow blasts. VIDAZA has been available in the United States for four years and it was recently approved in Europe.
MDS is a primary neoplasm of the bone marrow that is more prevalent than any of the leukemias. MDS affects the function of blood cells; red blood cells, white blood cells or platelets. It is not known exactly how many people have MDS, however, according to current estimates, there are between 15,000 and 20,000 people diagnosed each year in Europe.
About the MDS Foundation
The Myelodysplastic Syndromes Foundation, Inc. is a multi-disciplinary, international organization devoted to the prevention, treatment, and study of the myelodysplastic syndromes. The organization is based upon the premise that international cooperation will accelerate the process leading to the control and cure of these diseases. For further information, please visit http://www.mds-foundation.org.