20 Years of Glivec – A Milestone

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Twenty years ago, on May 10th 2001, the FDA in the US approved a drug called Glivec for the treatment of Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia. This drug, we had heard, had been granted what is called a priority review and the FDA had approved it after just over a two-month review time.

It was oral therapy – a pill that promised to convert a fatal cancer into a chronic manageable disease. And oh boy did it keep its promise! Named “The Magic Bullet”, that’s exactly what it did.

Today, thousands of patients who would have otherwise not survived even a few years, thank what they call “The Gift of Life”, which has not only given them extension of life but quality of life.

Glivec burst upon the firmament of cancer therapy and changed the way treating physicians would look at their CML patients from then on and the way the patients themselves would look at their lives.

And to think that we are a part of what has gone into the making of an amazing bit of medical history. When I received a file from Novartis India in early 2002 with the names of the first 22 names to be enrolled into their PAP for this drug, little did I imagine where this was going to lead.

In no time the numbers of CML & GIST patients grew into hundreds and over the next couple of years into thousands. Patients who had to be on life-long treatment – patients who were living with cancer.

The Max Foundation put together a team in India as we did in countries all over the world where we managed this Programme. In India I set up the first ever Patient Support Group of its kind so patients and their families could have a safe platform from where they could share and learn from each other.

They were told they were lucky that they had been diagnosed with a ‘good’ cancer and would live a normal life as long as they took the drug every day. Yes, it was easier said than done and we at The Max Foundation knew we were there to help every patient deal with this incredible situation in their life.

Today we have in South Asia, as world over, have little children grown into young adults, young adults become householders and advancing in their careers, householders seeing their children settled and retired pensioners settled comfortably in their twilight years spending time with their loved ones. Every patient has a story to share and in every story several lessons to be learnt.

-Viji Venkatesh.

“Together we Share & Learn” is the FOM maxim.

Listen to what Friends of Max leaders have to say about their journey with CML, GIST and Glivec-

1. J. P. Tiwari (Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh)

“Nothing is impossible if one sets their mind to it”- Invention of the magic bullet just proved the above statement true! Glivec has lit up the lives of so many CML & GIST patients and we will always be thankful to Dr. Brian Druker and Novartis for it.

2. Yogesh Bhasin (Delhi)

Glivec turned out magical for me as I was feeling like a fish out of water.

3. Francis D’Souza (Mangalore, Karnataka)

We are grateful to Pat Garcia-Gonzalez, who took the initiative after the demise of her step-son Max to start this work in his memory along with the whole team for their selfless contribution in their different fields to make our lives worth it. God bless you one and all we love you and pray that God showers his abundant blessings on you all.

4. Shashikant Jakhade (Pune, Maharashtra)

Since childhood I had heard about magical things but never really saw one. But when Glivec came in my life I experienced real magic. I was diagnosed with CML & lost all hopes from life. But this “Magic Bullet” gave me back my lost hopes of living a life full of joy and happiness. I have lived this normal life for the last 17 years only because of this medicine. Thank you Novartis, Thank you Max, Thank you Glivec.

5. Ramnath Agarwal (Indore, Madhya Pradesh)

Initially, the lives of CML & GIST Patients was like a candle which could be blown off at any time, but then came Dr Brian and Novartis, and they came like a Sun and spread sunshine in the lives of patients. We all are indebted to them and convey our heartiest thanks to them and to Pat and the Max team.

6. Trupti Hakani (Pune, Maharashtra)

In Ramayana the medicine “Sanjeevani” was brought by Hanuman. In this century, our Hanuman is Dr Brian Druker, Novartis and our Max Foundation who brought Sanjeevani in the form of Glivec for all CML & GIST patients.

7. Rashmi Sachade (Mumbai, Maharashtra)

Glivec is not just a magic bullet, but it is magical! It lets me spread smiles, confidence and love in others’ lives.

8. Manhar Kochhar (Delhi)

Glivec is the only bullet that does not kill but saves lives.

8. Nitesh Verma (Ara, Bihar)

Glivec is a feeling of hope, trust, life, strength, happiness and more to all CML & GIST patients. Thanks to all doctors and patients who were involved in the research of this “Magic Bullet”.

9. Pramod George (Mumbai, Maharashtra)

GLIVEC – Game changer and life saver for me and many of my CML brethren across the globe. You have added years and years to our life, our families are blessed.

10. Sandhya Godey (Visakhapatanam, Andhra Pradesh)

Fortunate to be a part of the history of this magic bullet. First as part of the clinical trial and then as a beneficiary of GIPAP and Max Foundation. First fired in 2000, it continues to make its healing way through so many lives.

11. Sailaja Kosuri (Hyderabad, Telangana)

18 years ago, I was diagnosed with CML. I thought it was a death sentence. But my oncologist reassured me that there was this new drug Glivec which is showing wonderful response in patients. And it was true!!

We’re all blessed to get this life saving “Magic Bullet” called Glivec and lead a near-normal life. God bless Dr Druker for his invention and giving us a second chance at life!

As they say “What Doesn’t Kill you, makes you Stronger!” I’m a better me today! Ever grateful and thankful to Pat Garcia-Gonzalez, The Max Foundation, Novartis, Viji Venkatesh and FOM – everyone is a blessing from God!

12. Avinash Dev (Bengaluru, Karnataka)

Super Bullet Glivec took me from man to superman. It has been 17 years and my latest blood report, taken fittingly yesterday on its birthday, was all clear! All thanks to God, the scientific community and everyone else involved in bringing us this great gift!

13. Nagendran Nagarajan, Chennai

Glivec is gift from The Max Foundation & Novartis to us. A life (Max) was seeded to rest but it sprouted to thousands & lakhs of lives, energy and smiles.

14. Vedamuthu Michael, Chennai

Glivec is not just a tablet, it is magic. Novartis and The Max Foundation are the magicians. When my health was in a serious condition, I wished for magic in my life. My wish was granted in the form of Glivec tablet. After this magic I’m living a happy life. Thanks Novartis and The Max Foundation for making this happen 20 years ago.

15. N. Sasikumar, Chennai

“Miracles happen to those who believe in them.” I believed Glivec and The Max Foundation, and it has changed my whole life.