GLEEVEC TRIAL RESULTS SHOW HIGH SURVIVAL RATE

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More than 90 percent of patients with a form of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) who are taking Novartis' Gleevec (imatinib mesylate) tablets in a clinical trial continue to survive and are free from progressing to advanced disease after four and a half years of treatment.

Results from the IRIS study (International Randomized Interferon versus STI571), the largest clinical trial to date for newly diagnosed adult patients with chromosome-positive CML in chronic phase, showed that 90.3 percent of patients who were initially randomized to take Gleevec were still alive after 54 months.

Moreover, the yearly risk of progressing to advanced disease fell to less than 1 percent in the fourth year, the lowest rate seen in the study so far. The results also showed that 100 percent of patients who achieved a major molecular response to treatment at 12 months — meaning that their disease was at extremely low levels — were free of progression to accelerated phase or blast crisis at 54 months.