Ankylose This! Living with Ankylosing Spondylitis

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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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Humira and uveitis

Researchers from the RHAPSODY study, which is examining the efficacy of adalimumab (Humira) on ankylosing spondylitis, report that the incidence of uveitis is markedly reduced among patients receiving the anti-TNF treatment.

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Monday, November 12, 2007

NICE to AS patients: No Remicade for you!

Britain's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has made a decision that restricts access to anti-TNF therapy by patients with severe ankylosing spondylitis, and the National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society (NASS) isn't happy about it. Only two out of three biologics will be accepted for use against ankylosing spondylitis: etanercept (Enbrel) and adalimumab (Humira), but not infliximab (Remicade). And Enbrel and Humira cannot be used sequentially -- which is to say that if you try Enbrel and it doesn't work, you can't then try Humira. And if neither works, you're SOL for Remicade. Cost is being cited: Remicade is more expensive to administer (since it can't be self-injected). See coverage from Channel 4, the Daily Mail, and This Is London.

As anyone with chronic inflammatory arthritis will tell you, it's impossible to tell what treatment will work in advance: I'm on naproxen, but I know AS patients who can't tolerate it; I know people who use indomethacin, but couldn't handle it myself. To have only one shot at anti-TNF therapy may make sense from a cost perspective, but it's lousy from the perspective of the person actually suffering from the disease.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Golimumab and ankylosing spondylitis

Golimumab: another TNF-alpha antagonist for us to keep track of (I wonder what the trade name will be). According to a press release, "More than half of patients receiving monthly subcutaneous (SC) injections of golimumab (CNTO 148) 50 mg and 100 mg experienced significant and sustained improvements in the signs and symptoms of active ankylosing spondylitis, according to Phase 3 study results presented at the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) annual meeting."

At some point there will be as many biologics at our disposal as there currently are NSAIDs. Not that they'll be as cheap.

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