JointHealth™ express   March 1, 2011

Good news for Quebec residents

Denosumab (Prolia®), a new class of medication in the arsenal of osteoporosis medications, is now reimbursed by Quebec's provincial or private drug plans. Last summer, Health Canada approved denosumab for the treatment of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women at high risk for bone fracture. To view Health Canada's Notice of Compliance (NOC) for this medication, please click here. The Common Drug Review has not yet made its recommendations for denosumab, but the submission status report is available here.

With the Conseil du médicament's decision to list denosumab, Quebec is leading the nation by being the first province to list the medication on its formulary.

Denosumab is prescribed "for the treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis in women who cannot receive an oral bisphosphonate [e.g. alendronate (Fosamax®), risedronate (Actonel®)] because of serious intolerance or a contraindication." To find this reimbursement criteria, please click here.

Osteoporosis occurs when there is an imbalance in new bone being made and old bone being removed.

Denosumab reduces the incidence of vertebral (bones in the spinal column) and non-vertebral fractures, including hip fractures. The medication is the first and only one that inhibits RANK Ligand, which means that it slows down the formation of the cells that break down bones (these cells are called osteoclasts). In other words, osteoclasts remove bone. But, denosumab tends to shift the balance in favour of stronger bones.

This listing is good news for Quebec residents because it provides a new treatment option. With some of the other commonly prescribed medications, women may stop taking them because of side effects or difficulty sticking to the medication schedule--some of the therapies have daily, weekly, or monthly dosing regimens. This medication, however, is administered by a trained healthcare professional by injection once every six months.

To learn more about osteoporosis, please read our "Spotlight on Osteoporosis", published by Arthritis Consumer Experts last year.