Newfoundland and Labrador includes new MS therapy on provincial drug program
Hoffmann-La Roche Limited, the Swiss multinational healthcare company, recently announced that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has added OCREVUS® (ocrelizumab) to its Pharmacare program through special authorization for eligible people living with relapsing-remitting (RRMS) and primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS).
Newfoundland and Labrador joins a growing list of provinces who have made the unique therapy available to patients 18 years or older who meet specific criteria. The provinces left to include it on their provincial formularies are BC, NB, PEI and NS. OCREVUS® is for the treatment of adult patients with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) and was also approved by Health Canada for the management of early primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS). This is the first therapy to be approved in Canada for people with PPMS.
“We are very excited to see Newfoundland and Labrador become the first Atlantic province to offer this treatment option to help people living with MS manage their disease, especially because this is the first drug to also be approved for primary progressive MS," said Louis Adam, President of the MS Society of Canada, Atlantic Division. “This is a great step forward for the MS community in the province. Our hope is that Nova Scotia, PEI and New Brunswick will follow suit so that all Atlantic Canadians will have the option to choose, with their healthcare team, the disease modifying therapy that works best for them."
Multiple Sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system and is unique to every individual living with a diagnosis. Approximately 1,500 people live with some form of MS in Newfoundland & Labrador. Currently, Health Canada has approved 14 disease modifying therapies for RRMS and one therapy for PPMS. Each person’s body or disease can respond to these medications differently, and the medication that is the best option for one person may not be the best choice for another person.
“I’m very pleased with the addition of Ocrevus to the drug benefit list in this province. This is a highly efficacious and newer treatment for MS that represents an excellent option for some patients living with more aggressive forms of the disease,” said Dr. Mark Stefanelli, Director of the St. John’s Multiple Sclerosis Clinic. “This therapy allows us an option for treating people living with primary progressive MS, giving an important and hopeful choice for those patients who have had no treatment options until now. We are making headway in terms of MS treatment options and care in Newfoundland & Labrador, but we still don’t measure up with the rest of the country, as we are the only province with an MS clinic that does not, in some fashion, cover the other highly efficacious medications.”
OCREVUS® is delivered via intravenous infusions about every six months after the initial first two infusions. Patients require monitoring from their healthcare providers at regular intervals between treatment courses and through comprehensive and free patient support through the drug’s manufacturer, Roche.
FOR BROADCAST USE:
Newfoundland & Labrador has just added a new MS drug to the provincial formulary which can help slow the progression of the disease. OCREVUS® is for the treatment of adult patients with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis and it’s the first therapy to also be approved by Health Canada for the management of early primary progressive multiple sclerosis. This new and unique therapy will give people living with MS another option to help manage their disease. Approximately 1,500 people are currently living with some form of MS in Newfoundland & Labrador.
MS SOCIETY OF CANADA
Canada has one of the highest rates of multiple sclerosis in the world with 11 Canadians diagnosed with MS every day. MS is a chronic, often disabling disease of the central nervous system comprising the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 49 and the unpredictable effects of the disease last for the rest of their lives. The MS Society provides programs and services for people with MS and their families, advocates for those living with MS, and funds research to help improve the quality of life for people living with MS and to ultimately find a cure for this disease. Please visit mssociety.ca or call 1-800-268-7582 to make a donation or for more information.
Judith Kays, MS Society of Canada, Atlantic Division
1-800-268-7582 ext. 1009