JointHealth™ express   June 23, 2006

The approval of rituximab (Rituxan®) by Health Canada is good news for Canadians with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Up to this point, the research showed that about one third of people with RA do not respond well to the best treatments available, so having another treatment option is a positive step for people living with RA. With this new treatment people will have a chance at delaying or avoiding damage to their joints and certain disability.

Rituximab (Rituxan®) targets B cells by reducing the signs and symptoms of RA. This therapy may provide long-term remission without the need of continuous treatment.

The treatment using rituximab is used in combination with methotrexate, given by two infusions two weeks apart. Another two infusions are given when the inflammation returns - generally between six to nine months later.

To qualify for this treatment option, a person with RA has to fail (or not responded well) or be intolerant to at least one anti-TNF biologic therapies. Examples include: etanercept (Enbrel®), infliximab (Remicade®), adalimumab (Humira®).

Rituximab, according to the studies, is tolerated well with low incidence of serious infusion-related reactions.

Now Health Canada has approved rituximab (Rituxan®), the next step in the prescription medications review process is the Common Drug Review, the provincial, territorial, private insurer review processes and finally the provincial formulary reimbursement process. For more information on these processes refer to JointHealth™ monthly - February 2006

To read more details about Health Canada's approval of Rituximab (Rituxan®), click here.