Pendopharm’s Glatect (glatiramer acetate injection), a lower cost alternative to Teva’s Copaxone, has been added to the public health plans of five Canadian provinces for patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) who have never been treated with glatiramer.
The medicine is now covered by the public drug benefit programs of Quebec, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and New Brunswick. In these provinces, Glatect will be the only glatiramer-based treatment eligible for public cost reimbursement among RRMS patients new to this type of therapy.
Criteria for being eligible may vary between provinces, and should be verified with each provincial health authority.
Glatect is commercialized as a 20 mg/ml under-the-skin injection of glatiramer acetate. The medicine is provided in pre-filled syringes and comes with an autoinjector, a device that facilitates self-injection in adult patients.
Its active ingredient — glatiramer acetate — is the same as in Copaxone. It consists on an immunomodulatory agent that can reduce the damage inflicted to myelin sheaths, the fatty substance that surrounds and insulates nerve cells and that is damaged in MS by the immune system. Glatiramer acetate is thought to divert immune systems attacks away from myelin sheaths, helping reduce the frequency of flare-ups.
Glatect is the first equivalent medicine to Copaxone to be commercialized in Canada, and was launched last year by Pendopharm, a Montreal-based division of Pharmascience. More information on Glatect is available on a webpage set up by the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada.
“As leader of the MS Clinic at the Ottawa Hospital, I’m delighted that Canadian health authorities are recognizing the importance of making lower cost alternative therapies available to patients with MS,” Mark Freedman, MD, director of the Multiple Sclerosis Research Unit at the Ottawa Hospital, said in a news release.
“The addition of Glatect to provincial drug plans will contribute important savings to the healthcare system and to patients” Freedman added.
Canada is reported to have the highest prevalence of MS in the world, with 77,000 adults estimated to live with the disease.
“Glatect, is a prime example of how Pendopharm, a Canadian company, contributes significantly to the sustainability of the healthcare system by making these therapies more accessible. We are highly optimistic to have more provinces add Glatect as a covered benefit under their drug plans in the coming months,” said Jean-François Lemieux, VP and general manager of Pendopharm.
In the U.S., the FDA has approved two generic equivalents to Copaxone — a 20mg and 40mg glatiramer acetate injection produced by Mylan, and a 20mg and 40 mg version available under the brand name Glatopa and marketed by Sandoz.