IMF’s affiliate partner, the Korean Blood Cancer Association (KBCA), held its 2016 annual myeloma patient meeting on October 29 in Seoul, Korea. With over 300 patients and family members participating, this seminar was KBCA’s largest and most successful to date.
Daniel Navid (IMF Senior Vice President, Global Affairs) provided introductory remarks to open the meeting. He presented an overview of the IMF’s international programs and stressed the significance of the Global Myeloma Action Network (GMAN) of which the KBCA is a member. He highlighted the role of Korean experts in the IMF’s scientific programs, including their participation in the IMF’s Asian Myeloma Network (AMN). Mr. Navid assured the Korean patients that they were not alone, being part of the IMF’s global network of partners working to enhance myeloma treatment and to achieve a cure.
The seminar then received a series of lectures on aspects of myeloma diagnosis and treatment from several leading Korean specialists. Dr. Jae-Hoon Lee spoke on “What is multiple myeloma?”; Dr. Dong-Yeop Shin reviewed latest developments in “Treatment of newly diagnosed myeloma patients”; Dr. Ki-Hyun Kim presented background information on “What are allogeneic and autologous transplants?”; Dr. Chang-Ki Min provided an update on “Treatment of relapsed/refractory disease”; and Dr. Jin-Seok Kim gave an overview of “Prospects for treatment and clinical research.”
The experts were then convened into a panel led by Dr. Je-Jung Lee (President of the Korean Multiple Myeloma Working Group) to consider questions from the audience. Dr. Lee assigned faculty members to each topic, an effective way to cover a wide range of subjects.
Two of the questions stood out. One patient asked why he had been stricken with myeloma. Dr. Jae-Hoon Lee responded that while there could be various factors, a definitive answer could not be given. He urged that since so many valuable treatment options were now available, it was better to focus upon combating the disease and securing a cure. Another patient then asked why it took so long for new treatments to be approved in Korea, often a delay of years after approval of these same treatments in the US. Dr. Ki-Hyun Kim agreed that delays caused serious problems for patients and stressed the importance of advocacy work by patient associations such as the KBCA in order to convince government administrators of the urgency of taking more rapid approval action. It was noted that the IMF is committed to working with our Korean partners to enhance access to all anti-myeloma therapies. We are very pleased that Korean experts are involved in clinical trials run by the AMN, which provide access to several new treatments to Korean patients.
The IMF looks forward to working with KBCA and our other partners in Asia in 2017, and reporting to you on the activities and advances made in the field of myeloma on behalf of patients and their loved ones.