B.C. PharmaCare grants coverage of $19K-a-month drug to treat girl with juvenile arthritis

Jaylene Prime , 11, suffers from a rare form of juvenile arthritis and requires an elaborate combination of pills and injections. Aldergrove’s Charlene Prime describes her family’s morning routine involves a fair amount of screaming and throwing things.

“Her older sister, Anika, actually helps with her injections every day. We do it as teamwork,” said Prime. “We get together, Claire, the youngest, will dance to provide distractions.”

Jaylene says the daily injections burn and feel like fire under her skin.

But starting next week, she’ll have some relief from the needles and bowls full of pills, and hopefully her symptoms. Prime has been approved for B.C. PharmaCare coverage for an expensive drug, Canakinumab, to manage the symptoms of her Systemic Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (SJIA), .

Canakinumab costs about $19,000 each month for a single injection. It will replace the multiple pill and injection prescriptions and reportedly doesn’t burn when administered.

Prime has been approved for six months of coverage before her case is reviewed.

While other children in B.C. have been taking Canakinumab, this is the first case in which the government will cover the cost.

Jennifer Wilson, executive director of Cassie and Friends Society, an advocacy group for kids and families affected by juvenile arthritis and other rheumatic diseases, is celebrating the PharmaCare coverage, despite the cost.

According to Wilson, Prime’s condition is especially severe, but there are still other children in need.