Healthcare professionals in B.C. Call for Access to OAB Medication Choices

Patients and their caregivers encouraged to lend their voice to letter writing campaign

VANCOUVER, July 29, 2013 /CNW/ - Maureen McGrath, RN, Nurse Continence Advisor and Chair of the BC Chapter of the Canadian Nurse Continence Advisors (CNCA), Jacqueline Cahill, Executive Director, The Canadian Continence Foundation (TCCF), Dr. Peter Pommerville and other leading urologists in the province are encouraging citizens in British Columbia who suffer from overactive bladder, and their caregivers, to join a critical advocacy campaign called 'It's Urgent' -

An estimated 2.9 million Canadians suffer from overactive bladder (OAB)i, a chronic medical condition marked by the sudden, compelling desire to pass urine.ii This sudden urge to urinate, which is difficult to suppress, can lead to the involuntary loss of urine (incontinence)iii and greatly impacts patients' lives. Many patients suffering with the symptoms of OAB limit social activityiv, experience loss of control and self-esteemv and battle with

Based on The Canadian Continence Foundation Impact of Incontinence in Canada report, urinary incontinence (a symptom of OAB) is cited as the "tipping point" in the decision by caregivers to place elderly family members into long-term care facilities.vii

Overactive bladder is treatable and upon diagnosis, lifestyle and behaviour modifications such as fluid management strategies are first used to manage the symptoms.viii In many cases behavioural techniques alone might not be enough to manage the symptoms related to OAB, in which case prescription medication may be required. In fact studies show that the chances of treatment success are better when behavioural techniques and drug therapies are used in combination.ix

Currently in British Columbia, there is only one medication for OAB that is covered by MSP (Medical Services Plan) through B.C. PharmaCare.x In every other province across Canada, patients with OAB have access to a range of medications.xi Because OAB and its treatment affect individuals so differently, it is critical that both physicians and patients have access to a number of treatment options.

"Without proper treatment, patients suffering with OAB symptoms experience a great impact on their quality of life including limiting their social activity, sleep disruption, experiencing depression and affecting sexual intimacy," said Dr. Peter Pommerville, Urologist, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Urological Sciences at The University of British Columbia. "These patients feel isolated and often suffer in silence. Offering choice when it comes to OAB treatment should be a non-negotiable priority of the B.C. government."

OAB medications in B.C. are currently undergoing a class review. Both the CNCA and TCCF agree this review represents an important time for the public and medical community to advocate for meaningful change on behalf of B.C. OAB patients and their families.

"Managing the potentially debilitating OAB symptoms is a challenge for most of my patients; having to tell them that they are only eligible for coverage from MSP for the one medication that may cause significant side effects is very difficult," said Maureen McGrath, Nurse Continence Advisor. "Patients in British Columbia should not have to pay out of pocket to be able to access these newer medications. The time is now to change."

"Overactive Bladder is not an inevitable consequence of aging and therefore can, and should, be treated," said Jacqueline Cahill, Executive Director, The Canadian Continence Foundation. "If the medical services plan coverage for alternative OAB medications were available to the appropriate citizens in B.C., it would not only offer renewed hope for the treatment of OAB symptoms, it would also demonstrate the province's commitment to help some of B.C.'s most vulnerable patients, including the elderly, effectively manage a difficult condition and remain independent longer."

It's Urgent Campaign

A province-wide campaign, 'It's Urgent,' ( has been launched in British Columbia, providing patients and their caregivers with the information they need regarding OAB and the current challenges in the province.

Patients and their caregivers are encouraged to lend their voice to the campaign by writing a letter to their local Member of the Legislative Assembly to call on the new Minister of Health to fund more OAB medications. More information, letter templates and simple instructions are available at

The 'It's Urgent' campaign has been generously supported by Astellas Pharma Canada, Inc.

i Irwin DE, Milsom I, et al. Population-Based Survey of Urinary Incontinence, Overactive Bladder, and Other Lower Urinary Track Symptoms in Five Countries: Results of the EPIC Study. Euro Urol. 2006; Supplements 6:4-9.
ii Yamaguchi O, et al. Clinical Guidelines for Overactive Bladder. International Journal of Urology. 2009. 16(2):126-142.
iii Yamaguchi O, et al. Clinical Guidelines for Overactive Bladder. International Journal of Urology. 2009. 16(2):126-142.
iv Brown J, et al. Urge Incontinence: The Patient's Perspective. Journal of Women's Health 1998; 7:1263-1269.
v Brown J, et al. Urge Incontinence: The Patient's Perspective. Journal of Women's Health 1998; 7:1263-1269.
vi Stewart WF, et al. Prevalence and Burden of Overactive Bladder in the United States. World J Urol 2003; 20:327-336.
vii The Canadian Continence Foundation. Impacts of Incontinence in Canada. Accessed June 25, 2013.
viii Mayo Clinic. OAB Treatment and drugs Accessed June 25, 2013.
ix Burgio K. et al. Combined Behavioral and Drug Therapy for Urge Incontinence in Older Women. J Am. Geriatr Soc. 2000.
x Astellas internal document - reimbursement landscape
xi Astellas internal document - reimbursement landscape

SOURCE: BC Chapter of the Canadian Nurse Continence Advisors

For further information:

For more information, or to schedule an interview with Dr. Pommerville, Maureen McGrath, Jacqueline Cahill or a local patient, please contact:

Stephanie Fitch
Tel: 416-425-9143 x17

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BC Chapter of the Canadian Nurse Continence Advisors

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