Arthritis Consumer Experts

February 21, 2008
For Immediate Release

Patients Who Need Infliximab Still Denied Coverage

(Regina, SK) — Arthritis Consumer Experts (ACE) welcomed the government of Saskatchewan's announcement today that etanercept (Enbrel®) and adalimumab (Humira®) will be added to the provincial medication reimbursement formulary for the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis.

"The previous government had declined to list all approved biologic response modifiers for the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis, so this is a tremendous step forward," said Cheryl Koehn, president of ACE.

"It is heartening to see the efforts of ACE and arthritis patients across the country recognized," Koehn continued. "Countless individuals and organizations have written letters to the Saskatchewan government, and we are pleased that the voices of people with arthritis have been heard."

However, Koehn also noted that while this listing in on the right track, the Saskatchewan government has still declined to list infliximab (Remicade®) for the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis.

"People who depend on the provincial medication reimbursement plan should have access to the full arsenal of treatment options," Koehn said. "ACE is calling on government to list infliximab on the provincial medication formulary alongside etanercept and adalimumab for the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis."

Ken Mulholland, Treasurer of the Canadian Spondylitis Association, agreed. "We want to see all three of the biologics approved for use in ankylosing spondylitis added to the Saskatchewan medication formulary," he said. "All three are medically necessary and proved by research to be safe, effective, and cost-effective," he continued. "This decision is devastating for those Saskatchewan patients with ankylosing spondylitis who need infliximab."

There are few or no extra costs associated with listing three biologics as opposed to two, because patients can only take one biologic at a time and biologics are similarly priced.

"Why did the government decline to list infliximab? To our knowledge, the costs of etanercept, adalimumab, and infliximab are very similar-that's what we've seen in other disease types, like rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis," noted Koehn.

"The Government has done 98% of the job on this issue, and we're asking them to do 100%," Koehn concluded.

About ACE

Arthritis Consumer Experts (ACE) is a national organization that provides research-based information and education to Canadians with arthritis. The organization helps to empower people living with all forms of arthritis to take control of their disease and to take action in health care and research decision making. ACE is led by people with arthritis and its activities are guided by a strict set of guiding principles, and by an advisory board comprised of leading scientists, medical professionals and informed arthritis activists.

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For more information:

Quincey Kirschner
(778) 847-9793

Diana Arajs
(416) 538-5837