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Patients living with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) in the province of Saskatchewan gain access to SPINRAZA™

April 22, 2019

Dear members of the SMA community,

In response to the requests received by patients living with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), Biogen Canada would like to provide this latest progress regarding coverage of SPINRAZA™ (nusinersen) in the province of Saskatchewan.

Biogen Canada is delighted to inform you that on April 12, 2019, the Government of Saskatchewan informed treating physicians in their province that patients living with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) have access to SPINRAZA™. The Saskatchewan Ministry of Health has made the decision to expand coverage of SPINRAZA™ to include the following, in addition to existing Type I patients:

  • Patients who are pre-symptomatic with two or three copies of the SMN2 gene;
  • Patients up to age 18, with symptom onset after six months of age and who have never achieved the ability to walk independently;
  • Patients that may have achieved the ability to walk independently (type III) as well as type II and type III patients over the age of 18 are encouraged to talk to their treating physician to apply for a case by case coverage.

With this decision, Saskatchewan has become the second province in Canada, following Quebec, to grant broad access to SPINRAZA™ for SMA patients. In March 2019, the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH) provided a revised and expanded recommendation for access to SPINRAZA™ for SMA patients which include pre-symptomatic, Type I and Type II (with exceptions and limitations). Notably all patients over 12 years of age and all those who have reached the ability to walk independently (Type III) are denied treatment according to this recommendation. The provincial jurisdictions are ultimately responsible to define their coverage criteria and Biogen Canada is working with all these jurisdictions to provide broad access to SPINRAZA™ to patients that need it. The decision of the Government of Saskatchewan is further demonstration after 45 other countries and the province of Quebec that an ongoing and sustainable solution for covering broadly this life-long treatment is possible and can be implemented in all Canadian jurisdictions.

Biogen Canada is working diligently to find solutions and will continue to pursue and advocate for broad and sustainable funding for all SMA patients in Canada. Patients living with SMA deserve equal opportunity to receive access to SPINRAZA™ and Biogen remains committed to working with each provincial government outside of Quebec and Saskatchewan until broad access is granted to patients.

Biogen Canada



Read the news release

New therapeutic development showing promise for infants with SMA

gettyimages-86802223The early cancellation of the clinical trial for the experimental drug nusinersen found that the difference in the children given the drug, and those on the placebo was so drastic that doctors determined they could no longer administer the placebo in good conscience. The drug nusinersen is designed to help those affected by spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).

Dr. Craig Campbell is a scientist/paediatrician with the Children’s Hospital at London Health Sciences Centre who works closely with patients affected by SMA, and has seen first hand the encouraging signs the treatment has given some of his patients. We asked Dr. Campbell a few questions regarding the news of this clinical trial:

What is nusinersen and how does it work?

Nusinersen is an antisense oligonucleotide, which is basically a small piece of genetic material that works by tricking the cell machinery into reading and producing a normal SMN protein, from another gene that is very similar to the one missing in patients with SMA.


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