JointHealth™ express   April 17, 2013

Good news for kids in British Columbia with arthritis

As of this month, British Columbian children who live with systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (sJIA) will be able to access tocilizumab (Actemra®) through the province’s public formulary.

This is good news because tocilizumab is the first biological response modifier (“biologic”) that specifically treats sJIA, so kids in BC now have a treatment option where none in this class of medication existed before.

Out of the one in 1000 children who are diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), 10 percent have the systemic (whole body) form of the disease. It is not only one of the rarest forms of JIA, it is also the most difficult to manage and very painful. Children with systemic onset JIA present quite ill with high fevers, rash, and organ inflammation along with joint inflammation. Systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis can lead to life long disabilities, slowed growth, osteoporosis, and sometimes life-threatening complications.

Click here to view the most up-to-date version of ACE's Report Card on provincial formulary reimbursement listings for biologic response modifiers.

What is tocilizumab?
Tocilizumab is a biologic that specifically inhibits or slows down the body's production of IL-6, a protein that when over produced promotes joint inflammation and damage, fever, anemia, slowed growth, and osteoporosis. The medication is effective for treating the symptoms and the underlying disease process of sJIA.