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Arthritis Sufferers Finally Granted Second Medication Option

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Arthritis Sufferers Finally Granted Second Medication Option

November 1st brings another medication option for those New Zealanders who suffer with severe Psoriatic Arthritis (PA), Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) with a second biologic option being funded.

Arthritis New Zealand have been lobbying for a second biologic option to be funded in New Zealand for some time as no two biologics are the same and patients who don't respond to one treatment may respond to another.

Enbrel is the commercial name for the TNF inhibitor known as Etanercept, which has been funded for Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) since 2004 and is the second of the TNF-alpha inhibitor biologic class of drugs to be funded for adults in New Zealand.

Until now, Humira was the only biologic medication funded for adults in New Zealand. There are currently six of these medications funded in Australia.

One person who knows how life changing Enbrel can be is up and coming rugby star James Lowe. James who is 18 was diagnosed with JIA, and was originally on a corticosteroid medication which proved to be successful for a short period of time but in February 2009 James was unable to move and he ended up in hospital.

In March 2009, James's rheumatologist started James on Enbrel injections and six weeks later James returned to the playing field. James is now feeling 100% and does not suffer from any side effects from the medication.

This year saw James play a lead part in New Zealand School Boys rugby team beating their Australian counterparts by scoring one of three tries and he has just been signed by Tasman Rugby Union for two years.

The criteria for funding of these drugs are that they will be a "last line treatment". This means that the drug is only available with a referral from a Rheumatologist after other treatments have not been effective.

Sandra Kirby, Chief Executive of Arthritis New Zealand is pleased another line of treatment will be available for those who live with severe forms of arthritis: "James is just one example of how biologic medication can transform the lives of those with arthritis."

"Biologics have been available in Europe for many years and it is disappointing that New Zealand is slow on providing access to proven innovative drugs. We are so pleased that after advocating for so long that those who lives are severely impacted by arthritis will have a second line of treatment option available. Today is another triumph for arthritis sufferers."

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