JointHealth™ express   January 20, 2014

Good news for Yukon residents

Criteria for denosumab (Prolia®) for osteoporosis and tocilizumab (Actemra®) for rheumatoid arthritis updated.

The Yukon recently added two medications to its Drug Formulary: denosumab (Prolia®) for osteoporosis and tocilizumab (Actemra®) for rheumatoid arthritis. Both medications are considered an Exception drug under the Pharmacare (seniors plan) and the Chronic Disease Program, which requires an application for the Formulary Working Group to assess.

Patients requiring treatment for osteoporosis, but cannot use bisphosphonates, can now receive denosumab. Tocilizumab can now be used to treat severely active rheumatoid arthritis on recommendation from a rheumatoid arthritis specialist, for patients who are intolerant or do not respond to methotrexate after a twelve-week trial and have tried leflunomide for at least ten weeks.

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 rheumatoid arthritis.

Since each person living with osteoporosis or rheumatoid arthritis responds differently to the available medications, no single biologic therapy is effective in everyone with the diseases. The criteria updates improve the chances of finding the right medication for an individual and we congratulate Yukon for being one step closer to the rest of the provinces in Canada.

Click here to view the most up-to-date version of ACE's Report Card on provincial formulary reimbursement listings for biologic response modifiers.