Optimism greets new arthritis treatment

When Lynn Jeffery first heard of a promising new arthritis treatment, she could barely conceal her excitement. For the past 40 years, the Kelowna, BC resident has lived with pain in her joints from rheumatoid arthritis. She’s tried all the standard treatments but has yet to find any that offer completely satisfactory results.Jeffery is hoping this changes with Mobicox(tm) (meloxicam), a new arthritis treatment which has recently been approved by Health Canada. “I’m anxious to talk to my doctor to see if the new treatment might work for me,” says Jeffery. Her excitement is understandably shared by many Canadians who also experience agonizing pain from either rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis.

Crippling side effects
That’s because traditional arthritis treatment — Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs or NSAIDs — can cause side effects, such as irritation of the stomach and even bleeding in the intestinal tract in severe cases. Alarming statistics show that up to 1,900 Canadians die each year from gastric bleeding and ulcers commonly caused by some drugs used to manage arthritis pain.

NSAIDs relieve the pain of rheumatoid arthritiand osteoarthritis by targeting the cycloxygenase (COX) enzyme, a chemical that can contribute to inflammation in arthritis. Because inflammation promotes pain, suppressing the COX enzyme can suppress pain. However, standard NSAIDs also suppress the COX enzyme throughout the body, not only in inflamed joints, but also where it provides protection such as in the gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, and in the blood, where it boosts clotting.

New arthritis treatment
New treatments aim to relieve arthritic pain without causing gastrointestinal side effects. In 1991, a breakthrough discovery found that the COX enzyme could be categorized as either COX-1 or COX-2, the latter being important during arthritic inflammation. This discovery fostered a new class of drugs called cycloxygenase-2 (COX-2) selective inhibitors — the latest being Mobicox(tm).

These new agents selectively target the COX-2 enzyme and, unlike traditional NSAIDs, have little meaningful effect on the beneficial aspects of the COX-1 enzyme, thereby causing significantly less unwanted side effects.

Benefit of Selective COX-2 inhibitors
Studies have shown Mobicox(tm) and other selective COX-2 inhibitors (Vioxx and Celebrex) currently on the market all have similarly dramatic reductions (of about 50 per cent) in serious adverse events on the gastrointestinal (GI) tract over standard NSAIDs.

A recent publication by the International COX-2 Study Group has addressed the clinical usefulness of the selective COX-2 inhibitors for the treatment of both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. The study group strongly recommended the use of selective COX-2 inhibitors over standard NSAIDs in nearly all arthritic situations where NSAID therapy is warranted.

Approved in more than 100 countries world wide, and with 44 million prescriptions already written, combined data from clinical trials and post-marketing surveillance shows Mobicox(tm) to be safe for chronic long-term, once-a-day use with starting doses of 7.5 mg for osteoarthritis and 15 mg for rheumatoid arthitis. The drug can also be used in patients with mild to moderate renal (kidney) impairment, and has minimal effect on the cardiovascular system.

Keeping healthcare costs down
Besides offering new options for arthritis sufferers, Mobicox(tm) could also play a significant role in reducing healthcare costs. The medicine will be marketed in Canada at $0.78 per day (excluding pharmacy’s dispensing fees) — 38 per cent less than other selective COX-2 inhibitors on the market. This could result in great savings for patients as well as the Canadian healthcare system in general.

“The approval of Mobicox(tm) in Canada is considerable news for the millions of people suffering from arthritis pain,” says Dr. Ken Croitoru, Associate Director of the Divisions of Gastroenterology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont. “Not just because we know that these agents have favourable GI tolerability compared to standard NSAIDS, but Mobicox(tm) may decrease the cost of treatment for patients with arthritis.”

This Special Sponsored Featured was prepared by the editors of CARPNews FiftyPlus in co-operation with Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd.