News & Updates2018-08-27T16:12:11+00:00

News & Updates

Member Consultations Underway

The CRA is undertaking a strategic planning process, to help us make good decisions about where to focus our efforts to achieve our aims and to do that we need to understand the perspectives of our members. This work builds on the gap analysis which conducted research in the past year. Some members (chosen randomly) will be contacted to participate in interviews and focus groups to provide input, and if you receive an email from the researchers, we hope you will find some time to share your thoughts. Any other members who wish to provide any thoughts about the specialty and future of the CRA via email are welcome to do so by emailing Ahmad Zbib.

Canadian Rheumatology Association Updated Position Statement on Biosimilars

The Canadian Rheumatology Association has released an updated position statement on biosimilars.

Previously known as Subsequent Entry Biologics (SEBs), biosimilars are drugs demonstrated to be highly similar to a biologic drug that is already authorized for sale (known as the reference biologic drug). It is acknowledged that evidence for the risk/benefit ratio of the use of biosimilars in the management of rheumatic diseases is rapidly accruing. The CRA encourages rheumatologists to provide the best care for individual patients and be fiscally responsible for the benefit of society as a whole. Rheumatologists should consider choosing the most cost-effective product when there is a choice available between an originator biologic and a biosimilar and must be mindful of cost savings. It is imperative that any substitution or transition/change to an approved biosimilar should result in no additional cost to the patient. The CRA recognizes the administrative challenges that patients may experience in accessing a biologic agent and therefore strongly encourages industry to provide and/or maintain patient support programs.

A copy of the statement can be found here.

Important Safety Information regarding PrBENLYSTA (belimumab)

Increased Risk of Serious Depression, Suicidal Ideation or Behaviour, or Self-Injury

The Canadian Rheumatology Association would like to inform its members of the following advisory:

In a recent post-marketing study (BEL115467), depression, suicidal ideation or behaviour, and self-injury were reported more frequently in patients receiving BENLYSTA plus standard therapy, when compared to patients taking placebo plus standard therapy.

Healthcare professionals are advised to:

  • Evaluate the risk of depression, suicidal ideation or behaviour, and self-injury before starting and during treatment with BENLYSTA.
  • Advise patients and their caregivers to contact a healthcare provider if patients experience new or worsening depression, suicidal ideation or behaviour, or self-injury.
  • Evaluate and refer patients experiencing new or worsening depression, suicidal ideation or behaviour, or self-injury to a mental health professional, as needed.

Health Canada is currently working with the manufacturer to update the BENLYSTA Canadian Product Monograph regarding this risk, including data from the post-marketing study (BEL115467).

For more information, please contact GlaxoSmithKline Inc. Medical Information at 1800-387-7374.

More information (View PDF)

Drug Shortage Notification – Methotrexate Injection (Sandoz), 25 mg/ml, 2 ml vial

Drug Name: Methotrexate Injection (Sandoz), 25 mg/ml, 2 ml vial on backorder due to delay in shipping

Date Shortage Reported: 09/18/2018

Expected Resolution of Shortage: 01/01/2020

Provinces Affected: Ontario; other provinces unconfirmed

Additional Comments:                                 

  1. Patients are frequently informed by their retail pharmacist, that all MTXsc is on backorder, which is NOT the case, and may have to ‘inform’ the pharmacist
  2. The Mayne Pharma Brand of Methotrexate 25mg/mL 2mL vial, which is interchangeable with the Sandoz brand in question, is available:  DIN 02182777
  3. Over the next 6-9mos, it is likely that all formulations may, from time to time be in ‘backorder’
  4.  Use Metoject pre-filled methotrexate.  Suggestion is to fax/ call in a new prescription just to be sure that the right product/dose will be dispensed. Also, patient will need to be informed that this is a pre-filled syringe with a different concentration of methotrexate (50mg/mL instead of 25mg/mL).

Note, that Metoject does NOT use the same API (Active Principle Ingredient), and originates in Germany, whereas API for all other brands use the same API sources.

Canadian Rheumatology Association Position Statement on Medical Cannabis Use in Rheumatic Disease

With the legalization of cannabis on October 17, 2018, Canadians may increasingly turn to their physicians for guidance regarding medical cannabis use, which has already entered mainstream medicine.

In the absence of studies examining the effects of medical cannabis in patients with rheumatic diseases, a position statement has been developed and published in the to help rheumatologists to offer pragmatic advice to their patient in a caring and empathetic way to ensure harm reduction. It was published online in The Journal of Rheumatology.

A copy of the statement can be found here.

Drug Shortage Notification

The Canadian Rheumatology Association would like to advise its members of the following reported drug shortage:

Drug Name: Shingrix – Herpes Zoster Vaccine

Expected Resolution of Shortage: December 31, 2018

Provinces Affected: National

Additional Comments: High demand for the drug coupled with the variable timing of supply shipments. Limited supply available of Shingrix 10s.

Status Update:

  • January 18, 2019 Update: High demand for the drug coupled with the variable timing of supply shipments. Re-supply is ongoing with current inventory on allocation.
  • Supply of Shingrix in the 10 dose package size were released on November 26 and are available under allocation – Read more
  • Limited supply of the 1 dose package size is anticipated to be available in mid-December – Read more