The Government of New Brunswick added Lemtrada (alemtuzumab), by Sanofi Genzyme, to the New Brunswick Prescription Drug Program (NBPDP) through special authorization for eligible patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS).
New Brunswick joins other Canadian provinces, including Ontario, Saskatchewan, Quebec, and Manitoba, in making this treatment available to RRMS patients, ages 18 and older, who have had an inadequate response to interferon beta or other disease-modifying therapies.
“I’m very pleased at the addition of Lemtrada to the drug benefit list here in New Brunswick. This is a unique and highly effective treatment for RRMS and represents an excellent option for some patients living with more aggressive forms of the disease,” said Dr. Gregg MacLean, neurologist and director of the MS Clinic in Saint John, New Brunswick, in a press release.
The NBPDP provides prescription drug benefits to eligible residents of New Brunswick, and is sponsored by the New Brunswick Department of Health. In almost all cases, to be eligible for the Drug Program, patients must first be registered with New Brunswick Medicare.
Lemtrada, approved in Canada in 2013, is a monoclonal antibody that selectively targets CD52, a protein abundant on immune T- and B-cells. Treatment with Lemtrada results in the depletion of circulating T- and B-cells thought to be responsible for the damaging inflammatory process in MS. The drug has minimal impact on other immune cells. The acute anti-inflammatory effect of Lemtrada is immediately followed by the onset of a distinctive pattern of T- and B-cell repopulation that continues over time, rebalancing the immune system in a way that potentially reduces MS disease activity.
Lemtrada is administered daily for five days, with no further therapy required for 12 months. A second three-day dose in necessary in year two.
As patients require monitoring at regular intervals between treatment courses, and for 48 months following the second and final infusion, Sanofi Genzyme has set up the MS One to One program, offering comprehensive and free patient support.
“We are very excited to see New Brunswick become the first Atlantic province to offer this treatment option to help people living with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) manage their disease,” said Ben Davis, president of the MS Society of Canada, Atlantic Division. “Knowing that Lemtrada is now available for New Brunswickers living with RRMS is a great step forward, and our hope is that soon, all Atlantic Canadians will have access to this disease modifying therapy so that they can choose the option that may work best for them. The MS Society of Canada encourages those who might be considering this treatment to consult with their healthcare team.”
Results of CARE MS II, a Phase 3 clinical trial assessing Lemtrada in RRMS patients, demonstrated that, as a second-line treatment, the drug is more effective than interferon beta-1a in reducing the annual relapse rate and the time to onset of sustained accumulation of disability.
“We are thrilled to see New Brunswick joining the growing list of provinces that see the transformative potential of this exciting and unique treatment for those in need of another option,” concluded Peter Brenders, general manager, Canada, at Sanofi Genzyme.