JointHealth™ express   September 13, 2012

CDR approval of tocilizumab

On July 19, 2012, the Common Drug Review (CDR) recommended that when people do not have private insurance coverage, provincial drug plans cover the cost of tocilizumab (Actemra®) for the treatment of active systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (sJIA) in children over the age of two. Click here to read the complete Common Drug Review recommendations and reasons.

This medication received its Notice of Compliance (license to sell) from Health Canada on January 19, 2012.

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 over produced promotes inflammation). It is effective at treating the symptoms and underlying disease process in sJIA.

This recommendation is good news for Canadian children who live with sJIA, who have responded inadequately to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and systemic corticosteroids, with or without methotrexate. This medication offers an important option when children who have sJIA do not respond well to other treatment options.

The reasons for recommending tocilizumab were in part based on patient input information, such as the concern that patients and their caregivers have about the adverse effects associated with the long-term use of NSAIDs, opioid pain medications, acetaminophen, corticosteroids, and methotrexate. This highlights the importance of patients, caregivers, and patient groups participating in the input process.