“With the life expectancy of more CML patients increasing, the need for routine PCR testing is very important to ensure optimal treatment results”
Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (NYSE:BMY) today announced a charitable donation to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). The donation will provide financial assistance for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients who need help paying for Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing, an important tool used in the diagnosis and monitoring of CML. The donation will also support LLS CML awareness activities focused on educating patients, caregivers and healthcare providers about the importance of continued monitoring with PCR testing.
“Routine PCR testing is critical because oncologists rely on the results to determine their patients’ clinical status of early and ongoing response to CML treatment and to help detect when patients are potentially becoming resistant to treatment, which may allow for earlier intervention,” said Louis J. DeGennaro, LLS’s president and CEO. “Research indicates that early response to treatment and careful monitoring correlate with better overall survival rates.”
The PCR test is used both in the diagnosis of CML and to monitor for cancerous cells after treatment has begun. It is the most sensitive testing method available, with the ability to detect a single cancerous cell among one million healthy cells. Recommendations suggest that a CML patient should receive a PCR test every three months for the first three years after diagnosis, and every three to six months thereafter based on how well their treatment is working. The average cost of a PCR test is $345 and can be as high as $500 per test. The program will assist insured and uninsured patients with out-of-pocket costs for PCR testing. The donation will also fund national CML awareness activities that will be undertaken by LLS’s 56 chapters, as well as grassroots efforts through local networks of patients, volunteers and healthcare institutions.
“With the life expectancy of more CML patients increasing, the need for routine PCR testing is very important to ensure optimal treatment results,” said Laura Bessen, MD, vice president, head of U.S. Medical, Bristol-Myers Squibb. “Bristol-Myers Squibb is committed to helping patients living with CML have access to this important test and to also help patients better understand why the testing is important for their long-term prognosis.”
LLS will also partner with The Max Foundation, Cancer Support Community and the National CML Society to facilitate ongoing promotion and awareness about the PCR Financial Assistance and Awareness Program.
To find out more about the PCR Financial Assistance and Awareness Program or to apply, call LLS at (877) 614-9242 or visit www.LLS.org/PCR.
About Chronic Myeloid Leukemia
CML is a slow-growing type of leukemia in which the body produces an uncontrolled number of abnormal white blood cells. According to LLS, approximately 33,990 people in the United States are living with CML. An estimated 5,980 new cases of CML were diagnosed in 2014. CML occurs when pieces from two different chromosomes (chromosomes 9, 22) break off and attach to each other. The newly formed chromosome is commonly called the Philadelphia chromosome. The abnormal formation of this chromosome creates an unwanted gene, called BCR-ABL. This gene is responsible for the production of the BCR-ABL protein, which triggers the development of abnormal white bloods cells, leading to CML. There is no known cause for why this genetic change occurs.
About Bristol-Myers Squibb
Bristol-Myers Squibb is a global pharmaceutical company whose mission is to discover, develop and deliver innovative medicines that help patients prevail over serious diseases. For more information about Bristol-Myers Squibb, visit www.bms.com, or follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/bmsnews.
About The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society® (LLS) is the world’s largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer. The LLS mission: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world, provides free information and support services, and is the voice for all blood cancer patients seeking access to quality, affordable, coordinated care.
Founded in 1949 and headquartered in White Plains, NY, LLS has chapters throughout the United States and Canada. To learn more, visit www.lls.org. Patients should contact the Information Resource Center at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET.
Shelly Mittendorf, 609-897-2055
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
Andrea Greif, 914-821-8958