Ankylose This! Living with Ankylosing Spondylitis

Friday, September 18, 2009

AS forum in Victoria, B.C.

An ankylosing spondylitis forum hosted by the Arthritis Society is taking place in Victoria, British Columbia on Thursday, October 1, between 2:00 and 4:30 p.m., at the Victoria Arthritis Centre on 2680 Richmond Road (map). Event listings here (scroll down) and here. Free to attend, but you must register in advance.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Health Canada on TNF blockers and cancer in children

Further to this earlier post, Health Canada has issued a safety update on TNF blockers and cancer in children and young adults. (Disclaimer: I work for Health Canada, but only in the correspondence unit.)

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Golimumab approved in Canada

I'm trying my best to step back a bit from the steady stream of news coming in about TNF-alpha blockers (i.e., biologics), because it can drown out everything else about our disease. But I have a selfish interest in the news that golimumab, which now has the trade name of Simponi, has been approved in Canada for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis; it's apparently to be used in combination with methotrexate, and, like other biologics, it's indicated for AS when conventional (i.e., affordable) therapies have failed.

Previously: Golimumab and ankylosing spondylitis.

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

B.C. drug plan to cover TNF drugs for AS

The Vancouver Sun reports that British Columbia's provincial prescription drug plan will cover adalimumab (Humira), etanercept (Enbrel) and infliximab (Remicade) for patients with ankylosing spondylitis who meet the criteria of the plan's Special Authority program.

Update, March 8: Reaction from the Arthritis Society, which says that they and others have been lobbying the government for this decision for years.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Saskatchewan approves Enbrel, Humira for AS

Amazing what a change of government does. Saskatchewan's provincial drug plan now covers Enbrel and Humira for ankylosing spondylitis under Exception Drug Status coverage.

Update: CBC News coverage. Remicade wasn't approved because it costs more.

Previously: More about Saskatchewan's TNF coverage; Saskatchewan to AS patients: No biologics for you!

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Friday, February 15, 2008

ACE demands biologics coverage for Aboriginal Canadians

Fresh from going after Saskatchewan for its refusal to cover biologics for AS, Arthritis Consumer Experts is now turning its attention to the drug coverage provided to Aboriginal Canadians by the Non-Insured Health Benefits program of Health Canada's First Nations and Inuit Health Branch. Noted without comment -- I'm presently working on contract at Health Canada.

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

More about Saskatchewan's TNF coverage

A follow-up article from the Regina Leader-Post on Saskatchewan's coverage of biologics -- they're covered for rheumatoid arthritis, two out of three are for psoriatic arthritis, but none for ankylosing spondylitis -- suggests, as an aside, that the newly elected Saskatchewan Party government may reverse the earlier decision not to approve coverage for AS. Indeed: why should our disease be treated, pun intended, differently?

Previously: Saskatchewan to AS patients: No biologics for you!

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Alberta won't cover biologics either

It's not just Saskatchewan: for the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis, the Calgary Herald reports. The issue forming up is the need to keep skyrocketing drug expenses under control versus the need to provide effective treatments for crippling, chronic illnesses. (It occurs to me that if a $15,000-a-year treatment is the difference between someone working and not working, it's money well spent.) In a letter to the editor, Ken Mulholland argues, "I realize that these drugs are very expensive, but how is it that provinces like Ontario and Quebec have approved their use while Alberta, with all of its wealth, can flatly deny sufferers within its borders?"

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Saskatchewan to AS patients: No biologics for you!

Meanwhile, a Canadian arthritis lobby group is fulminating against the Saskatchewan government, which last month decided against listing three TNF blockers -- presumably the big three, Enbrel, Humira and Remicade -- for the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis. This isn't about prescription drug coverage, says the group; it's about access, pure and simple: "As a result, people living in Saskatchewan with this inflammatory disease have absolutely no access to biologic medications to manage their disease." That seems a bit much. No access at all?

Update, 11/15: CBC News has more, including the Saskatchewan Formulary Committee's rationale: their position is that "the clinical benefit does not justify the incremental cost of these drugs." As a result of last week's provincial election, there will shortly be a change of government in Saskatchewan, so this decision may well be reversed.

Update, 11/18: More coverage from the province's main newspapers.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

AS sufferer may join oxycodone class action

For most of us, the medications we take to treat the pain and inflammation of ankylosing spondylitis are not addictive: the street value of naproxen, for example, is pretty low. But some of us have been prescribed opioids like oxycodone -- e.g., OxyContin and Percocet -- which are addictive. More addictive, in fact, than was previously let on: oxycodone's manufacturer, Purdue Frederick, and its executives were fined more than $634 million last month for understating the addictiveness of their drug. Now a class-action lawsuit may be in the offing in Canada, and a Cape Breton man with ankylosing spondylitis, who was prescribed Percocet, then OxyContin on top of that, and then turned to crime to feed his oxycodone habit, is interested in joining it, the Cape Breton Post reports (also reprinted in the Halifax Chronicle Herald).

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

PEI lags in drug approvals

The Arthritis Society is campaigning to raise the profile of arthritis patients during the upcoming provincial election in Prince Edward Island. Notably, they point to how long it takes the provincial drug plan to approve drugs: approvals for biologics lag behind other provinces, and even Celebrex isn't covered. Don't miss the boneheaded responses from the provincial parties that sidestep the question and talk about disease prevention and lifestyle choices: when you've got an inflammatory autoimmune disease, it's already too late for that, and you don't catch what we have from eating too many Ding-Dongs, you assclowns.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Enbrel auto-injector available in Canada

An auto-injector for Enbrel (etanercept) is now available in Canada, which should make it easier for patients to administer their own meds. As someone averse to needles, I can appreciate this.

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Jeff Woods, personal trainer

In the course of reporting on a local fundraiser for the Arthritis Society, Edmonton Journal columnist Nick Lees gives us the story of personal trainer Jeff Woods, who, despite his AS, is described as "incredibly fit" -- he apparently competes in sprints. The fundraiser is a ballet, and apparently Lees is donning a tutu for a brief scene.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

British Columbia and Remicade

British Columbia's provincial drug plan doesn't cover Remicade (infliximab) for ankylosing spondylitis, though it's been approved for rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease, reports The Peace Arch News, leaving AS sufferers (or, presumably, their private plans) to pick up the full $24,000 tab if they want the newer treatment.

One interesting bit from the article encapsulates the problem with B.C.'s prescription drug coverage: "B.C. pays more for generic drugs than other provinces; and, B.C. is usually last to approve new medications. One drug, Enbrel, for the treatment of psoriatic arthritis, has been under study and review here for more than three years. Meanwhile, it’s approved for use in every other province except Prince Edward Island." Of course, Enbrel (etanercept) is of interest to AS sufferers too.

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