JointHealth™ express   May 16, 2008

In Ontario, the arthritis community faces very serious issues around medication reimbursement for several biologic response modifiers, the "gold standard" in treatment for moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and psoriatic arthritis.

Here are the specific problems:
  1. Abatacept (Orencia®) is still not listed on the Ontario medication reimbursement formulary for rheumatoid arthritis. This is in spite of the fact that it has received a recommendation to list from the Common Drug Review.
  2. Adalimumab (Humira®) for ankylosing spondylitis has not yet been listed on the Ontario medication reimbursement formulary. This, in spite of the fact that it has received a recommendation to list from the Common Drug Review.
  3. Infliximab (Remicade®) remains under review for the treatment of psoriatic arthritis in spite of strong clinical and cost-effectiveness research supporting their use.
  4. Rituximab (Rituxan®) for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis is only reimbursed after a person fails two other specific biologic medications. This listing criterion has no scientific basis, and only serves to delay appropriate treatment for people who need rituximab.
  5. Provincial review times for abatacept, adalimumab, and infliximab thus far have ranged from ten months to more than two years.
Joint damage in the setting of inflammatory arthritis can only be prevented if people are treated with the right medication early in their disease process - the same way cancer treatment needs to be initiated as early as days after diagnosis. For people in Ontario with inflammatory arthritis who are waiting for the medications they need, these reimbursement listings cannot come soon enough. Each day a person with inflammatory arthritis is forced to wait is another day of progressive, irreversible joint damage.

It is time to take action.

Please write, email or phone your MPP and tell them that this is discrimination against people who live with severe inflammatory arthritis, and it must stop. Tell them that as a person who lives with arthritis, you will be watching to see how your government treats people who live with your disease.

This situation is unacceptable to our community, and it should be to our elected representatives as well. Please click here to find your MPP, and then take the time to write an email and speak out on behalf of people in your province who live with inflammatory arthritis.

Thank you

Arthritis Consumer Experts, and Canadian Arthritis Patient Alliance and
c/o 4038 West 38th Avenue, Vancouver, BC Canada V6N 2Y9

Arthritis Consumer Experts