In doing research for her Web site, Gangloff learned that while Novartis will help people pay for the drug, there is an income qualification. Patients can have no more than $75,000 in assets, with their first home and car excluded from consideration.
“It penalizes people who did a good job saving for retirement who would naturally have more than $75,000 in assets,” Gangloff says. However, Gangloff is a fan of Gleevec, saying she feels much more energetic than when she was on interferon, a chemotherapy drug that not only didn’t stabilize her blood counts, but caused overwhelming fatigue, joint pain and other side effects.
“Gleevec works too well,” says Gangloff. She is experiencing anemia as a side effect, for which she takes another medication to boost her red blood cells. She also bruises easily because her platelets are below normal and has felt some pain in her bones.
“It’s too early to say if it’s working on the leukemia, but it’s definitely working on stabilizing my blood counts,” she said. “I’m working, basically leading a normal life and am pretty healthy overall.”
Gangloff believes that Gleevec will be most useful for her and other patients in combination with another drug.
“I definitely feel more hopeful about Gleevec than other leukemia treatments,” Gangloff says. “If it’s not a cure then it will tide me over until the right combination is found. I feel so much better on Gleevec than I did on interferon. My quality of life is much improved.”
A bone marrow transplant is the only known cure for C.M.L., one of the four most common types of leukemia. There are about 4,500 new cases in the United States each year.
Few C.M.L. patients find suitable bone marrow donors, and those who do may risk dying as a result of the procedure.
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