JointHealth™ express   April 6, 2011

Good news for Saskatchewan residents

On April 1, 2011, the province of Saskatchewan added tocilizumab (Actemra®) to its provincial formulary. This makes Saskatchewan residents among the first (second only to Quebec) in Canada able to publicly access this medication for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Since each person living with the disease responds differently to the available medications, no single biologic therapy is effective in everyone with RA. The more treatment options there are, the better the chances are of finding the right one for an individual.

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.

The criteria for coverage in Saskatchewan can be viewed here.

This addition means that Saskatchewan is now ranked in fifth place, from eighth, on Arthritis Consumer Experts' Report Card on provincial formulary reimbursement listings for biologic response modifiers.