Arthritis Consumer Experts

June 18, 2008
For Immediate Release

Patients Who Need Infliximab Left Behind

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

"Previously, the government had declined to list etanercept (Enbrel®) for the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis, and adalimumab (Humira®) had been under review for approximately a year and a half, so this is a tremendous step forward," said Cheryl Koehn, president of ACE.

"Countless individuals and organizations have written letters to the Alberta government voicing concern about their lengthy review times and drug plan inequities," said Koehn, "and we are pleased that the voices of people with arthritis have finally been heard."

However, Koehn also noted that while these two listings put the Alberta government on the right track, they have failed to list infliximab (Remicade®), the only treatment some people living with ankylosing spondylitis respond to. Infliximab has been under review in Alberta since July 2005.

"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 immediately list infliximab on the provincial medication formulary alongside etanercept and adalimumab for the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis."

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 has the government failed 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