Pendopharm’s Glatect (glatiramer acetate) — a treatment for patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) — has been added to the public drug plan in the Canadian province of British Columbia, and is now the only glatiramer-based treatment for RRMS patients there using the plan.
After Copaxone (glatiramer acetate, marketed by Teva Pharmaceuticals), Glatect is the first commercialized glatiramer-based medicine in Canada, and now available via prescription plans in seven provinces. Pendopharm, which is a division of Pharmascience in Montreal, launched the therapy in September 2017 as a lower-cost alternative to Copaxone.
Glatect has been the sole glatiramer-based treatment approved by PharmaCare Special Authority in British Columbia for requests or renewals of such treatment since Nov. 27.
With this decision, British Columbia becomes the first Canadian province to require a mandatory transition to Glatec for continued public coverage of glatiramer acetate treatment, according to a Pendopharm press release. Of note, patients taking glatiramer acetate must have transitioned to Glatec by May 28, 2019, to maintain PharmaCare coverage (some exceptions may apply).
As with Copaxone, the active ingredient in Glatect is glatiramer acetate, which is a mixture of small synthetic proteins that resemble components of the myelin sheaths (the protective cover of neurons that is destroyed in MS). While its mechanism of action is not entirely known, glatiramer acetate is believed to redirect the MS-causing autoimmune response against myelin. As such, it works to lessen the number and intensity of flares patients’ experience.
Glatect offers a daily 20 mg/mL subcutaneous injection, through pre-filled syringes with autoinjectors that allow patients to self-administer the medicine. Patients can contact the Ally Patient Support Program for injection training, as well as reimbursement and financial support.
“Our goal is to ensure a smooth transition to Glatect. Patients are our priority, which is why all Glatect patients are eligible for the Ally Patient Support Program,” Jean-François Lemieux, VP and general manager of Pendopharm, said in the release.
Canada has one of the highest rates of MS in the world. Although the numbers vary between different studies, reports estimate that 77,000 adults live with the disease in the country.
Glatect is available through public drug plans in seven Canadian provinces — Ontario, Alberta, Québec, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick, and British Columbia; plans for all, except British Columbia, require RRMS patients starting on a glatiramer-based treatment use Glatect.
“Glatect is a prime example of how Pendopharm, a Canadian company, contributes significantly to the sustainability of the health care system in Canada by making important therapies more affordable and, therefore, more accessible to patients,” Lemieux said.
In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two glatiramer acetate injection therapies, in addition to Copaxone — an equivalent generic by Mylan, and Glatopa, a generic form by Sandoz.