JointHealth™ express   October 2, 2013

Good news for residents of Prince Edward Island

Tocilizumab (Actemra®) approved in Prince Edward Island for the treatment of systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis AND rheumatoid arthritis.

On October 1st, tocilizumab (Actemra®) became listed on Prince Edward Island’s medication formulary, under the newly established Catastrophic Drug Program, for the treatment of systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (sJIA) and rheumatoid arthritis (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 specifically inhibits or slows 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 sJIA and RA.

We commend the province for adding tocilizumab because now children with sJIA and adults with RA who live in PEI will have a treatment option where none in this class of medication existed for them before. Since everyone responds differently to the available medications, no single biologic therapy is effective for treating RA or sJIA. The addition of tocilizumab means one more treatment option is available for residents of PEI, and that improves the chances of finding the right one for an individual.

The change is reflected in October’s update of the JointHealth™ Report Card on provincial formulary reimbursement listings for biologic response modifiers.