There was exciting news announced recently for the prostate cancer community. Three important milestones were achieved that will make it easier for men to receive Provenge, also known as sipuleucel-T, approved for men with asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic metastatic castrate resistant (hormone refractory) prostate cancer.

Provenge, considered a major breakthrough in the fight against prostate cancer when it was approved in April of 2010, is the first cancer drug to use the body?s own immune system to fight cancer. In clinical trials, half of the men who received Provenge lived more than 4 months longer than men who didn?t receive Provenge. But because Provenge is hard to make ? a patient?s own cells are used to create the therapy ? there were initially concerns about how many men could receive it.

There were three recent developments ensuring that any man who qualifies for Provenge can receive the therapy:

? First, the company that makes Provenge, Dendreon, announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved its second manufacturing plant, a facility in Los Angeles. This will increase the number of doses that can be produced and men who can be treated.

? Second, the agency that runs Medicare announced that Medicare would cover Provenge on a national basis. While Medicare had been paying for the treatment even before their announcement, the decision cements access to Provenge for all Medicare beneficiaries. For those under 65, most private insurance plans also cover the treatment.

? Finally, Provenge was awarded a ?Q-code,? in June, which makes it easier for doctors to submit reimbursement claims for the drug, therefore encouraging

them to prescribe to qualified patients.

In addition to these decisions, Dendreon has created a comprehensive assistance program for patients which includes information about the process, a program for patients who are uninsured, as well as grants to independent foundations that can assist with co-payments for the therapy and treatment-related travel costs. For more information on the assistance programs, you can call 1-877-336-3736, or visit

The last year has included a number of breakthroughs in helping to fight advanced prostate cancer, and men with advanced prostate cancer now have more options than they ever had before, thanks to pioneering science. We are pleased that these recent announcements mean greater access to one of these breakthrough treatments for the men who need it.

Visit PHEN?s Facebook page to see more highlights and videos on these recent developments.

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