People living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) can now benefit from BC PharmaCare’s coverage of a new medication used to treat this life-altering and rare disease.
On July 19, a drug called sodium phenylbutyrate and ursodoxicoltaurine (Albrioza) was added to the PharmaCare formulary as a limited coverage benefit.
Albrioza is taken orally and works to slow disease progression and loss of functional decline in eligible people living with ALS. In the first year of implementation, coverage is expected to benefit as many as 100 patients in B.C.
There are two other therapies available for the treatment of ALS. Edaravone (Radicava) intravenous formulation has been funded as a limited coverage benefit by BC PharmaCare since August 2020.
Riluzole (Rilutek and generics) is also covered on an exceptional case-by-case basis.
The province says expanding access to ALS medications builds on previous actions to support people living with ALS, including a $4-million investment in the ALS Society of BC’s Project Hope to establish a world-class ALS clinic at the University of British Columbia, which will care for patients, conduct research and increase patient access to clinical trials.
What is ALS?
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (also known as ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease, or motor neuron disease) is a disease that gradually paralyzes people because the brain is no longer able to communicate with the muscles of the body that we are typically able to move at will. Over time, as the muscles of the body break down, someone living with ALS will lose the ability to walk, talk, eat, swallow, and eventually breathe.
ALS is not contagious. There are no effective treatments for ALS and no cure. Patients are typically in their mid-to-late 50s when they present with symptoms and the average survival time ranges from 20 to 48 months.