In mid-March 2021, Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Canada (“MTP-CA”) shared that its infusion therapy RADICAVA (edaravone) is now available for some Canadian patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The treatment will be reimbursed through the Newfoundland and Labrador Prescription Drug Program (NLPDP) under Special Authorization.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
Also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurological disease which causes brain stem, spinal cord, and brain nerve cell death. While doctors are not exactly sure what causes ALS, an estimated 5-10% of diagnoses are caused by certain genetic mutations (familial ALS). Alternately, doctors believe toxin exposure may play a role in ALS development. In cases in which the cause is unknown, it is called sporadic ALS. While ALS affects multiple groups of people, it tends to affect white males aged 60-69 the most. Symptoms vary between patients. However, as ALS progresses, symptoms may include:
- Difficulty walking or performing small movements (holding objects)
- Anxiety and depression
- Frequent tripping and falling
- Muscle twitching or cramping
- Difficulty chewing and swallowing
- Slurred or nasal speech
- Unintended weight loss
- Poor posture
- Gradual inability to move muscles across the body
Over a 13-year period, the company has been developing edaravone for use in patients with ALS. It has been approved in Japan, South Korea, the United States, Switzerland, and Canada over the last 6 years specifically. According to the pharmaceutical’s web page, RADICAVA is a:
Solution, 30mg/100mL (00.3mg/mL)
which is designed to be administered intravenously. Currently, RADICAVA is not indicated for use in pediatric patients. The drug works by inhibiting and reducing the loss of function in patients with ALS, particularly when the function is measured by the ALS Functional Rating Scale Revised (ALSFRSR). The therapy was found to be efficacious in a variety of clinical trials. While relatively safe and well-tolerated, the treatment does have some potential side effects, including:
- Allergic reactions (hives, swelling, breathing problems)
- Bruising around the injection site
- Difficulty walking
Newfoundland and Labrador Prescription Drug Program (NLPDP)
According to the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Health and Community Services, the NLPDP:
provides financial assistance for the purchase of eligible prescription medications for those who reside in the province. There are five main plans under the program: The Foundation Plan, The 65Plus Plan, The Access Plan, The Assurance Plan and The Select Needs Plan.
Interested in finding out more about these five main plans, eligibility requirements, and how you can apply? Click here.
Outside of Newfoundland and Labrador, RADICAVA is also available through other similar plans in other provinces. These include the Saskatchewan Formulary, Nova Scotia Drug Formulary, Alberta Drug Benefit List, and Ontario Drug Benefit Formulary, among others.