Well, I’m back home writing this blog, and ASH was a whirlwind of presentations, events, and networking. My brain is on overdrive, but it’s all good! I’ve gone through miles of my notes and pictures; and for this last blog, I will focus on on Monday, Dec 7th—my last day at ASH. Please check out all the tweets, as that’s where we took live notes and pictures and posted them! They may be short snippets, but the photos that are attached to the tweets provide great statistics and information. My twitter handle is @IMFsupport: it’s easy to read these–just click on the link at the bottom of this page.
Because Monday was the day most myeloma presentations were made at ASH, Monday used to be known as “Myeloma Madness Monday”. However, over the last few years, because there are so many more presentations (almost 800 this year!), every day is jam packed with oral presentations (some even simultaneous), poster presentations, scientific and education presentations as well as the IMF’s Symposium on Global Advances in Myeloma.
In addition to all the scheduled presentations on Monday, ASH did something that I don’t think has ever happened before in the myeloma world. They added a session: “ASH/FDA Joint Symposium: Late-Breaking Drug Approvals.”
Three speakers from the FDA spoke first on each of the new drugs, followed by impressions from myeloma experts:
- Barry Miller, MSN, CRNP, FDA spoke on the approval and indication of Darzalex (daratumumab). (On November 16, the FDA approved Darzalex (daratumumab) to treat myeloma patients who have received at least three prior treatments. Of note, this drug is the first monoclonal antibody approved for treating myeloma.)
- Alexandria Schwarsin, MD, at the FDA, spoke on the approval of Ninlaro (ixazomib). (On November 20, the FDA approved Ninlaro in combination with Revlimid® and dexamethasone as a treatment for myeloma patients who have received at least one prior therapy.)
- Nicole Gormley, MD, the FDA spoke on the approval of Empliciti (elotuzumab). (On November 30, the FDA approved Empliciti (elotuzumab), a monoclonal antibody in combination with Revlimid® and dexamethasone for myeloma patients who have received one to three prior therapies.)
The above from the FDA was interesting; however, the “meat” of the program that everyone was sitting on the edges of our seats to hear were the impressions of myeloma experts on how to use these new drugs in the real world!
First, we heard passionately from Dr. Vincent Rajkumar (Mayo Clinic-Rochester) who discussed all new treatments.
- IFM/DFCI 2009 Study, Newly diagnosed multiple myeloma patients (stem cell tranplantation candidates)
- Clinical Trials
- Efficacy results of Kyprolis® (carfilzomib) in Relapsed/Refractory Multiple Myeloma (RRMM)
- Integration and Impact of Novel Agents in RRMM
- Outcomes in Myeloma; Continued Progress & Real Hope
This special session ended with questions/comments from the audience.
The last comment of the evening came from our own, Yelak Biru (Support Group Leader of Dallas, TX)
Yelak thanked all the researchers for the progress, and stated that he is:
“an almost 20 year myeloma survivor, and that we as a community should celebrate, but get back to work, as the war on myeloma is not yet over.”
His statement resounded with everyone to thunderous applause and even cheers. What a way to end the session, on a patient’s perspective!
Our leaders left this session invigorated, but we still had one more to go! The IMF’s IMWG Conference Series “Making Sense of Treatment” was jam packed with point/counterpoint on the latest news and trends on treatment.
Bottom Line for me: With all the newly approved treatments for myeloma, how do we use them in the real world? For me, this is a key reason for all myeloma patients to seek out a second opinion from a myeloma expert to ensure they are on the right road.
Finally, my sincere thanks to the IMF for being the first organization to bring myeloma patients to ASH and to continue doing so! As Susie Novis Durie has always said “Knowledge is Power.” Thanks also to the pharma sponsors: Amgen, BMS, Celgene, Janssen and Takeda for the unique opportunity for patients to attend ASH15, to hear first hand the updates, to use social media to share this information, and to then bring it back to their local myeloma community.