Kesimpta Now Reimbursable for Patients in 2 Canadian Provinces

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by Lindsey Shapiro, PhD |

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Kesimpta (ofatumumab) is now accessible to eligible Canadians with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) through public drug plans in Ontario and Quebec.

The treatment has been included as an exceptional medication under both the Ontario Drug Benefit Exceptional Access Program and the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec. This marks the first of the Canadian provinces to list the treatment.

The listings mean that eligible patients in these provinces can now receive reimbursement for the cost of Kesimpta.

“This is welcome news for people living with RRMS in Ontario and Quebec who rely on public reimbursement for their medications,” Pamela Valentine, MD, PhD, president and CEO of the MS Society of Canada, said in a press release.

“We encourage other provinces to move swiftly in doing the same, as the more treatment options available to people living with MS, the more they can work with their care teams to effectively manage this chronic, disabling disease,” Valentine said.

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Kesimpta works by targeting the CD20 protein on B-cells — a type of immune cell involved in launching the mistaken autoimmune attacks that characterize MS. The therapy is delivered as a monthly subcutaneous or under-the-skin injection that can be given at home following three weekly doses at the start of treatment.

Health Canada approved Kesimpta for adults with active RRMS in 2021. It’s also approved in several other countries, including the U.S., the European Union, Australia, and Japan.

The pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance in March signed a letter of intent with the therapy’s developer, Novartis, regarding Kesimpta access and cost. That letter essentially was an agreement allowing Novartis to work with Canadian provinces to provide public funding for the treatment.

The listings also were supported by recommendations from the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH), in Ontario, and the Institut national d’excellence en santé et en services sociaux (INESSS), in Quebec. Both noted that Kesimpta’s at-home dosing allows MS patients the flexibility they value.

The convenience of at-home dosing is particularly meaningful in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, INESSS also noted.

“People living with relapsing MS desire convenient options, so being able to offer patients a safe and highly efficacious treatment that can also be self-administered with a monthly subcutaneous [under-the-skin] injection moves us closer to achieving both the clinical goals of reducing disability and delaying progression while meeting the lifestyle needs and wishes of our patients,” said Warren Berger, MD, a neurologist at the University of Western Ontario and University Hospital London.

Novartis will continue to work with the remaining Canadian provinces to come to similar agreements to reimburse patients for the cost of Kesimpta.

“We commend the governments of Ontario and Quebec for their leadership in making Kesimpta rapidly accessible,” said Andrea Marazzi, the pharma organization head for Novartis Canada.

“We are committed to continuing our collaboration with the remaining provinces to make Kesimpta available as quickly as possible to all eligible Canadians who rely on public coverage,” Marazzi added.

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