JointHealth™ express   February 16, 2011

Tocilizumab now listed on Quebec drug formulary

There is good news for Quebec residents living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who have had an inadequate response to a trial of two disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs). Effective February 1, 2011, the Conseil du médicament in Quebec listed tocilizumab (Actemra®) on the Quebec drug formulary.

Now there are more treatment options available, which is important because each person living with the disease responds differently to the available medications. No single biologic therapy is effective in everyone with RA.

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. This decision makes Quebec patients among the first in Canada to be able to publicly access tocilizumab.

In brief, the criteria associated with the listing are:
  • For the treatment of moderate or severe rheumatoid arthritis.
  • The initial request is authorized for a maximum of 5 months. Requests for continuation of treatment with tocilizumab are authorized for 12 months.
  • Tocilizumab will be given for a maximum of 8 mg/kg every four weeks.
Click here to view the most up-to-date version of ACE's Report Card on provincial formulary reimbursement listings for biologic response modifiers.