JointHealth™ express   July 14, 2006

New Brunswick Minister of Health, Brad Green, recently announced that the province's drug plan will begin covering two biologic therapies for people with ankylosing spondylitis, a form of inflammatory arthritis that when left untreated, or under-treated, causes disability, deformity, and loss of quality of life and employment. Before this action was taken, few people with ankylosing spondylitis could afford to pay for these medications out of their own pocket.

The government of New Brunswick has been vocal about its commitment to act quickly to list new medications approved by Health Canada on its drug plan. The province is the first in Atlantic Canada to cover biologic response modifiers to treat ankylosing spondylitis. On average, biologic response modifiers costs the individual approximately $18,000 per year.

New Brunswick resident Ms. Linda Wilhelm, a person living with arthritis and an advocate for others living with the disease, wants an end to "out of pocket" payments for catastrophic drugs. "Not everyone has a private drug plan. About 30% of Canadians living in Atlantic Canada do not have public health plan coverage for expensive medications, making them inaccessible to many."

To find out about etanercept (Enbrel®) and infliximab (Remicade®) in the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis and if you qualify for public drug coverage in New Brunswick, contact your rheumatologist or your physician who is helping you manage your arthritis.