JointHealth™ express   May 7, 2012

Good news for Manitoba residents

Beginning on May 24, 2012 residents of Manitoba who live with moderate to severe active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) will be able to access tocilizumab (Actemra®) through the public formulary.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a debilitating autoimmune disease that aggressively and progressively attacks and damages joints and the surrounding tissues. Left untreated, it causes irreversible damage, chronic pain, and loss of joint function, all of which result in a profoundly reduced quality of life and decreased life expectancy.

Each person living with the disease responds differently to the available medications, so no single biologic therapy is effective in everyone with RA. The addition of tocilizumab means one more treatment option is available for residents of Manitoba, 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 Manitoba can be viewed on page 6 of Bulletin #68 for the Manitoba Drug Benefits and Interchangeability Formulary, here.

Arthritis Consumer Experts (ACE) is pleased to see this move toward greater reimbursement equality across Canada. ACE’s updated Report Card on provincial formulary reimbursement listings for biologic response modifiers is now available.