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Press Release – Gratitude Meetings

Feb 9 2007

{mosimage} Across India, cancer patients are leaving behind the roles of victim or survivor and letting their voices be heard. “Friends of Max” a group developed by cancer patients for patients noticed that in the current debate raging around patent law and generic medications in India, no mention was being made of a program sponsored by Novartis Pharmaceuticals (one of the players) that makes the medication that has lengthened their lives available at no cost to them.

 

“I am alive and living with dignity” – Cancer patients’ self support group inspires global signature campaign.

Dateline – Mumbai, India – February 9th, 2007

Introduction – Across India, cancer patients are leaving behind the roles of victim or survivor and letting their voices be heard. “Friends of Max” a group developed by cancer patients for patients noticed that in the current debate raging around patent law and generic medications in India, no mention was being made of a program sponsored by Novartis Pharmaceuticals (one of the players) that makes the medication that has lengthened their lives available at no cost to them. The Kolkota chapter of “Friends of Max” decided to turn their usual meeting scheduled for February 11th into a Gratitude meeting and to gather signatures expressing their support for the GIPAP program. Five other “Friends of Max” chapters in Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Mumbai have decided to join and add their signatures. Patients, their families and physicians are gathering to sign.

“I am alive and living with dignity thanks to Novartis and its Glivec International Patient Assistance Program, GIPAP”. This is the statement that defines the Gratitude Meetings and signature campaign. When The Max Foundation, administrators of the GIPAP program globally were informed of the intention of the India patients to initiate an India wide signature campaign, the decision was made to offer patients in the 81 countries around the world where the GIPAP program is active the chance to sign on as well. The Max Foundation supports a computer network through which patients and physicians can apply to the GIPAP program and now where anyone can add their name to the growing list. While the all India signature program is launched publicly, February 11th, over 2400 patient, caregiver, physician or supporter signatures from around the world have already been gathered.

In 2002 Novartis launched GIPAP. This program, administered globally by The Max Foundation, has a unique model through which patients who meet program criteria are accepted into the program and receive continuous supply of free Glivec as prescribed by their physicians. Additionally, patients also benefit from the service of dedicated Max Foundation advocates and care specialists who support the emotional and practical needs of the family and the patient.

Founded in 2004, “Friends of Max” is a patient support group for “people living with” CML and GIST. Self Supported and organized by the patients, today there are thousands of active members of the Friends of Max, all GIPAP recipients, spread out in 6 chapters throughout India. They meet regularly for mutual support and educational sessions. Once a year, they organize an All India Friends of Max meeting with the slogan “Together We Share and Learn”; they invite a panel of distinguished physicians who lead a three hour educational session for patients

The Max Foundation (TMF) is a non-profit cancer organization with international focus. TMF is dedicated to helping patients with leukemia and blood-related cancers worldwide. TMF honors the spirit and life of Maximiliano (“Max”) Rivarola, who fought chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) with outstanding courage and grace. Since 1997 TMF has helped patients worldwide form patient support groups, access treatment, disease information & education, and emotional support for those who have limited access to resources.

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