Canadian province Prince Edward Island (PEI) has approved the inclusion of Aubagio (teriflunomide) 14 mg in the PEI Pharmacare’s provincial drug formulary. This means that the drug developed and commercialized by Genzyme is now financially supported by the state as a first-line oral tablet to treat patients who suffer from relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS).
Aubagio, an immunomodulator which has anti-inflammatory properties, was approved by Health Canada in November 2013 as monotherapy to treat patients with RRMS and promote the decrease in clinical exacerbation frequency, as well as delay accretion of physical disability. The therapy influences the amount of activated lymphocytes in the central nervous system (CNS) and has been examined in over 5,000 trial participants in 36 different countries, some of which have been receiving the drug for up to 10 years.
“AUBAGIO is proving to be a very simple, safe and effective treatment for MS. I’m glad to see it endorsed by this province’s Prescription Drug Program,” explained in a press release the physician Richard Leckey, from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown, PEI and Staff Neurologist at the Dalhousie Multiple Sclerosis Research Unit in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Canada has one of the world’s highest rate of MS, and approximately 100,000 people suffer from the disease in the country. In addition, three people are newly diagnosed with MS every day, and it has become the the most common neurological disease affecting young adults in Canada. Most people are diagnosed with relapsing MS in their twenties and thirties and struggle to find more effective ways to manage the disease for which there is currently no cure.
Given the burden of the disease worldwide and particularly in Canada, the reactions were immediate, praising the decision. “We’ve all waited patiently for safe and effective oral medications in MS,” said the director of the Multiple Sclerosis Clinic, in Saint John, New Brunswick, Gregg MacLean. “I am pleased that AUBAGIO has gained a listing in Prince Edward Island.”
“The MS Society is pleased that PEI has come on board to provide coverage of another treatment option for those living with multiple sclerosis,” also stated the interim president of the MS Society of Canada‘s Atlantic Division, Monica Jordan. “This means Islanders living with MS have greater access and more choice when it comes to treatments that manage the effects of their disease.
“For people with MS who are interested in exploring treatment options, we encourage them to consult with their healthcare team to find the course that is most appropriate for them. The MS Society of Canada continues to support and advocate for greater access to therapies that will improve the quality of life for people living with MS,” added Jordan.
Genzyme, which is a Sanofi Company, has also demonstrated its appreciation of the decision, as the general manager of Genzyme Canada, Peter Brenders, said that “we congratulate the Government of PEI for making AUBAGIO available to patients suffering from RRMS. With its once-a-day oral regimen, this will provide patients an alternative to injectables.” The company is committed to improving the lives of MS patients, not only with Aubagio, but also through its program MS One to One, with comprehensive information services, ongoing education, and drug reimbursement navigation assistance.
Last January, Nova Scotia became the first of Canada’s four Atlantic Provinces to include Aubagio 14 mg treatment on its provincial drug formulary as a first-line oral agent for people in the province living with RRMS, followed now by the Prince Edward Island. In the United States, Aubagio was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in September, 2012 to treat patients with relapsing forms of MS.