JointHealth™ express   August 18, 2011

Good news for Canadians living with osteoporosis

Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Nova Scotia have all recently added denosumab (Prolia®) to their formularies, following quickly in Quebec’s footsteps, the first province to make the addition since Health Canada approved the medication a year ago.

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.

Osteoporosis occurs when there is an imbalance in new bone being made and old bone being removed and denosumab tends to shift the balance in favour of stronger bones. It is a new class of medication for the treatment of osteoporosis that reduces the incidence of vertebral (bones in the spinal column) and non-vertebral fractures, including hip fractures. Denosumab 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).

Having as many treatment options available as possible is ideal because each individual responds differently to medications. Also, 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.

Listing details can be found at the following links:
  • Alberta - click here (Section 3, page 4, or 15)
  • Saskatchewan - click here (page 234 of Appendix A, or p. 15 of the pdf)
  • Nova Scotia - click here (Appendix III-9, or p. 215)
To learn more about osteoporosis, please read our "Spotlight on Osteoporosis", published by Arthritis Consumer Experts last year.

Arthritis Consumer Experts is working on a letter writing campaign directed to the provinces who do not yet cover this medication. If you would like to help with the campaign ACE encourages you, your family and friends to write letters to your provincial health minister or your local newspaper letting them know how osteoporosis affects you and about the importance of having more medication options for treating the disease. For suggestions on composing a letter, please visit our “What You Can Do” section of the JointHealth™ website.