Canadian IPF community hopes publicly-funded access to the one and only treatment is available in all provinces immediately
SAINT JOHN, NB, Oct. 9, 2014 /CNW/ - New Brunswickers affected by idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) – a rare, progressive and fatal lung disease – can finally breathe a little easier with the help of public funding, after two years of advocating for access to the one and only treatment approved in Canada for their deadly disease.
The Government of New Brunswick has agreed to fund Esbriet (pirfenidone), the only medicine available in Canada to treat mild to moderate IPF in adults, through the New Brunswick Prescription Drug Program (NBPDP), as part of a negotiation with the Pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance (PCPA). New Brunswick is the second province, after Ontario, to make this funding decision which will allow patients who meet certain criteria and who rely on public funding to finally have access to Esbriet, effective October 3, 2014.
Although Esbriet was approved by Health Canada in October 2012, the Canadian IPF community was disheartened to learn that the Common Drug Review (CDR) recommended provinces not publicly fund the drug, resulting in a severe lack of access to the one and only treatment available in Canada. With the recent news that New Brunswick and Ontario have successfully negotiated funding through the PCPA, the entire IPF community desperately hopes that all other provinces will quickly follow their lead before time runs out for IPF patients across Canada.
"The Canadian IPF community commends those provinces that agree to publicly fund Esbriet – a list that is growing and now includes New Brunswick and Ontario," said Robert Davidson, president and founder of the Canadian Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (CPFF). "We hope that the rest of the provinces will join in and provide access to the one and only approved treatment for all Canadians living with IPF, so we can all breathe a sigh of relief."
Newly published data shows reduced risk of death
Earlier in May, data presented at the 2014 International Conference of the American Thoracic Society (ATS) and concurrently published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) gave the IPF patient community renewed hope that publicly funded-access may soon be reality. The Phase 3 ASCEND Study: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Pirfenidone in Patients with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) confirmed the proven efficacy and safety of Esbriet through a number of key primary endpoints.
According to the published data, the study demonstrated that Esbriet significantly reduced the decline in lung function by 47.9 per cent, as measured by a decline in forced vital capacity of 10 per cent or more. Additionally, the study showed that 27.5 per cent of patients experienced a reduced decline in the 6-minute walk distance (6MWD) test, and almost half (43 per cent) saw an improvement in progression-free survival with IPF. Most importantly, a pooled analysis of data from ASCEND and two previous phase 3 trials (CAPACITY) with Esbriet showed that the risk of all-cause mortality in IPF patients was reduced by 48 per cent compared with placebo.
"I'm glad to hear that IPF patients in New Brunswick will have access to the only treatment approved in Canada for this devastating disease," says Dr. Marcel Mallet, Respirologist, Moncton Respirology Clinic. "My hope is that all IPF patients across Canada will be able to benefit from it as soon as possible."
Permanent funding still needed in all provinces
The interim listing agreements made in New Brunswick and Ontario are important steps in the lives of IPF patients, however a permanent solution is needed for all patients across Canada who could benefit from this treatment. The CPFF is urging the CDR to provide a positive recommendation for the long-term listing of Esbriet on all provincial formularies based on the recently published data, patient evidence submissions and expert clinical opinions. This recommendation is expected by spring of 2015.
"I can't express how incredibly relieved I am to hear that the New Brunswick government is supporting this life-changing decision to fund the only approved treatment for IPF," says Doug Greene, who lives near Saint John and has been struggling with IPF for two and half years. "We are so grateful to the Government for their help and hope that all public drug plans will follow their example so that IPF patients across the country will have the same chance to fight this disease."
In order for New Brunswickers to receive funding for Esbriet, eligible patients must first receive a prescription from their respirologist, and be enrolled in the Inspiration Program, a patient support program offered by InterMune Canada. Esbriet will then be funded through the New Brunswick Prescription Drug Program (NBPDP), based on certain clinical criteria: http://www2.gnb.ca/content/dam/gnb/Departments/h-s/pdf/en/NBDrugPlan/formularyupdates/NBDrugPlansBulletin893.pdf.
About IPF in Canada
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is an interstitial lung disease with no known cause. Studies suggest that up to 30,000 Canadians are believed to be affected by all forms of pulmonary fibrosis, with an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 suffering from mild to moderate forms of IPF. The disease is more common in men than women and is usually diagnosed between the ages of 40 and 80 years, with a life expectancy of just two to five years. In patients with IPF, the lung tissue becomes scarred and over time, as the scarring becomes thicker and more widespread, the lungs lose their ability to transfer oxygen into the bloodstream. As a result, patients become short of breath and the brain and vital organs are deprived of the oxygen necessary for survival. IPF has a higher mortality rate than many other malignancies, including pancreatic, lung and liver cancers.
About the CPFF
The Canadian Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (CPFF) is a registered not-for-profit charitable organization established to provide support, hope and resources for those people affected by pulmonary fibrosis. Robert Davidson, president of the CPFF, who had IPF and received a double lung transplant in January 2010, founded the organization in 2009 to help support and educate others, and to answer non-medical questions frequently asked by those suffering with the disease. For more information, please visit www.cpff.ca.
SOURCE: Canadian Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation