Quebec breathes new hope into lives of those affected by pulmonary arterial hypertension

10.08.2014

Patients elsewhere in Canada hope for swift access to new treatment option now funded in Quebec

pulmonary_hypertension-590x393.jpgVANCOUVEROct. 8, 2014 /CNW/ - The Pulmonary Hypertension Association of Canada (PHA Canada) was pleased to learn that a new treatment option for pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is now being publicly funded in the province of Quebec. On October 1, the Institut national d'excellence en santé et services sociaux (INESSS) recommended that the drug Opsumit (macitentan) be added to the list of drugs covered by the prescription drug insurance plan administered by the Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ).

"This news marks an important milestone for patients, their caregivers and their physicians in Quebec who now have access to a new treatment option that can offer a better quality of life to some patients," says Denis Cormier, President of the Fondation Hypertension Artérielle Pulmonaire - Québec (HTAPQ). "Clinical studies on Opsumit provide us with long-term data, which is rare in PAH research, and brings much hope to patients and their families."

Approved in November 2013 by Health Canada for the long-term treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension to reduce morbidity, Opsumit (macitentan) is a novel dual endothelin receptor antagonist (ERA), which is taken orally once daily. The safety and efficacy of Opsumit were evaluated in the largest and longest randomized, placebo-controlled study in PAH patients called SERAPHIN – the first long-term study to include a clearly defined, clinically-important morbidity/mortality primary endpoint. Quebec is the first province to recommend Opsumit for public reimbursement, but the hope is that all provinces and territories will follow Quebec's lead and make it available to all Canadians who can benefit from it.

"The PAH community across the country applauds the Quebec government for its leadership in providing funding for this important new treatment option, which puts an additional tool in physician's hands to help improve the quality of life of those suffering from this deadly and aggressive lung disease," says Angie Knott, National Manager, Pulmonary Hypertension Association of Canada. "We urge all provincial and territorial governments to give patients acrossCanada who can benefit from Opsumit the same breath of hope. Every patient living with this disease is different, so the more treatment options that physicians have at their disposal to treat PAH, the more lives can be saved."

Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a rare disease affecting the arteries of the lungs, which become narrowed and scarred. This can result in almost complete closing of the arteries, which can lead to heart failure. Some symptoms of PAH are shortness of breath; bluish hands, feet and lips; swelling of hands and feet; light-headedness and dizziness; chest pain; exhaustion and fainting. Because it shares many symptoms with other diseases, PAH is often misdiagnosed. Up to 10,000 Canadians may be affected by PAH. PAH is a life-threatening disease for which there is currently no cure.

About the Pulmonary Hypertension Association of Canada (PHA Canada)
The Pulmonary Hypertension Association of Canada (PHA Canada) is a national, registered charity. Our mission is to empower the Canadian pulmonary hypertension community through awareness, advocacy, education, research and patient support. PHA Canada is working to end the invisibility and isolation often experienced by those living with this life-changing disease. To learn more about PHA Canada and pulmonary hypertension, please visit www.phacanada.ca.  

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