JointHealth™ express   November 4, 2013

Health Canada approves medication for rare form of juvenile idiopathic arthritis

Health Canada approves tocilizumab (Actemra®) to treat Canadian children with polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis.

Nearly two years ago tocilizumab (Actemra®) was approved by Health Canada for treating the systemic form of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). One week ago that approval was expanded to include polyarticular-course JIA.

Polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis (polyJIA) is a rare, chronic and debilitating form of JIA. Approximately, 1 in every 1,000 children is affected by JIA, with polyJIA accounting for 30 percent of cases. PolyJIA is characterized by inflammation in five or more joints. Most commonly, it affects the large and small joints in the body, including knees, wrist and joints of the hands and feet.

In a press release published in Canadian Newswire, Dr. Earl Silverman, Pediatric Rheumatologist of The Hospital for Sick Children, said: “The effects of polyarticular-course juvenile arthritis on children are quite significant because it not only decreases their mobility, but interferes with all aspects of their life including schooling and interactions with their family and friends. The approval of Actemra® for this form of juvenile arthritis represents another treatment option to help relieve the symptoms of this disease. As a physician, my goal is to aim for remission in order to allow children to enjoy a more active and enjoyable life.”

The approval of tocilizumab is based on a phase III study called CHERISH. The research data showed that patients treated with tocilizumab experienced clinically meaningful improvement in signs and symptoms of polyJIA. Safety records for tocilizumab are also consistent with previous studies of tocilizumab-treated patients.

To learn more about tocilizumab and the CHERISH study, please click here.