Rinvoq Gains Canadian Approval for Treating Ankylosing Spondylitis

According to a story from Ankylosing Spondylitis News, Health Canada has recently approved upadacitinib (marketed as Rinvoq) as a treatment for people living with ankylosing spondylitis. The medicine is specifically meant for patients with active disease who fail to respond to disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) or are unable to tolerate them. Rinvoq can be used on its own or alongside non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

About Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS)

Ankylosing spondylitis is a rare form of arthritis which is characterized by long term inflammation of the spinal joints. Other joints may also be affected. The precise cause of ankylosing spondylitis has not been identified. A host of environmental and genetic factors may play a role; for example, a study found that the majority of patients in the UK presented with the HLA-B27 antigen. The onset of ankylosing spondylitis symptoms often begins in early adulthood. Symptoms may include relapsing/remitting back pain, progressive joint stiffening, fatigue, fever, and weight loss. Inflammation can spread to other parts of the body, such as the eyes, the cardiovascular system, and lungs. No cure for the disease exists, so treatment focuses on pain management and slowing disease progression. Treatment may include NSAIDs, opioids, TNF inhibitors, physical therapy, surgery, and some others. Unfortunately, most therapies can cause serious side effects with long term use. To learn more about ankylosing spondylitis, click here.

About Rinvoq

Rinvoq is categorized as an inhibitor of Janus kinase (JAK) and intervenes in the JAK-STAT signal pathway, a mechanism that is important in the inflammatory immune response triggered in ankylosing spondylitis. By intervening in this pathway, the immune response is suppressed, reducing symptoms and inflammation. The therapy has previously gained approval in both the EU (early last year) and in the US (last April).

The approval gives these patients an additional therapeutic option that they did not have before, and many patients who struggled to respond with DMARDs were left with little recourse in the past. Marianne Skippings, a patient from Edmonton, Alberta, had this to say of the new medicine:

“Living with AS for most of my adult life, I have gotten used to living with pain. I had muscle spasms, and I couldn’t walk. It was hard to move. The pain in my back and my glutes made everyday movement, particularly anything that involved hip movement, really difficult…Finding a treatment that works for me has been life changing and has allowed me to get back to normal and simply focus on living.”

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