After Struggling With Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, An 11-Year-Old Girl Gains Access to Crucial Treatment

According to a story from the Vancouver Sun, 11-year-old Jaylene Prime from British Columbia was able to obtain access to a critical treatment for her juvenile idiopathic arthritis. The drug, called canakinuab, is one of very few treatments available for systematic juvenile arthritis, which is one of the rarest and most severe forms of juvenile arthritis. Jaylene was able to obtain the drug after writing an appeal to the BC government.

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is refers to arthritis that affect people who are under 16 years of age and whose condition has no definitive cause. It is an autoimmune condition in which the body’s own immune system begins to attack joint tissue. Systematic juvenile idiopathic arthritis is the most severe form of the condition, and along with the most typical symptoms of juvenile arthritis, such as joint swelling, limping, joint pain, and flu-like symptoms, other organ systems of the body are also affected. Symptoms such as a high fever, rash, enlargement of the spleen, liver, and lymph nodes, and anemia can occur. Other organ systems can also experience inflammation. To learn more about juvenile idiopathic arthritis, click here.

A common treatment for JIA is anakinra, a treatment that is effective in resolving symptoms for most patients, and achieved an 87 percent success rate. However, anakinra requires daily injections that, for Jaylene, had become very painful. Jaylene’s claims about anakinra were backed up by another girl with JIA, Landen Alexa. Jaylene described the injections as “burning fire” under her skin. Despite multiple applications for canakinuab from her doctor, the Ministry of Health had rejected them.

Thankfully, Jaylene was just recently granted access to the treatment. Jaylene had tried multiple treatments for her JIA, but anakinra’s painful injections had wracked her with anxiety. A steroid treatment, prednisone, caused her unpleasant side effects such as weight gain and also further exacerbated her anxiety. The girl claims that canakinuab will allow her life to be more enjoyable, and she will more free to pursue physical activity such as bike riding and archery.

Jaylene’s story is one of persistence, even the face of multiple rejections and a lethargic response from the government. Now a petition is circulating to allow the coverage of canakinuab on a case by case basis for the small number of children who need it.

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