JointHealth™ express   June 9, 2011

Good news for New Brunswick residents

On May 30, 2011, New Brunswick added tocilizumab (Actemra®) to its Prescription Drug Program Formulary, making the province the third one to allow residents to publicly access this medication for the treatment of moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Since each person living with the disease responds differently to the available medications, no single biologic therapy is effective in everyone with RA. The addition of tocilizumab means one more treatment option is available for residents of New Brunswick, and that improves the chances of finding the right one for an individual.

Tocilizumab belongs to the class of medications called "biologics" (short for biologic response modifiers), which target the specific pathways responsible for causing inflammation and joint destruction. Tocilizumab is the first medication designed to specifically inhibit or slow down the body's production of IL-6 (a protein that when overproduced promotes inflammation) and is effective at treating the symptoms and underlying disease process in rheumatoid arthritis.

The criteria for coverage in New Brunswick can be viewed on the May 30, 2011 update here.

This addition means that New Brunswick is now ranked in fourth place, from fifth, on Arthritis Consumer Experts' Report Card on provincial formulary reimbursement listings for biologic response modifiers.