Catastrophic Drug Plan: A New Dawn for New Brunswickers

December 10, 2013 | Adam Richardson

The Arthritis Society’s New Brunswick Division is pleased to congratulate the Alward government on delivering a long-awaited catastrophic drug plan for New Brunswickers.

The Arthritis Society has spent several years working with many other health charities on obtaining this important announcement. There are currently 125,000 New Brunswickers living with some form of arthritis, of which there are over 100 different forms. Examples include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, lupus, and juvenile arthritis. There are various treatment options but currently no cure, making it, by definition, a chronic disease.

According to Statistics Canada, about 20 percent of New Brunswickers, or about 70,000 families, do not have prescription drug insurance.

“For many years we have heard about a potential catastrophic drug plan for New Brunswickers, today we have seen the promises become reality,” said Susan Tilley-Russell, executive director of The Arthritis Society’s Maritime Division. “This government made an election commitment to New Brunswickers who need a catastrophic drug plan to help them cope with the high costs of their medication. Without a drug plan, access to treatment is unattainable, but the Alward government showed leadership and delivered on their promise.”

Medications to treat inflammatory arthritis can carry costs ranging from $20,000 to $50,000 a year. Inflammatory arthritis usually requires multiple mediations that are taken to manage the chronic disease such as biologics and Methotrexate. For many people without an insurance program, the cost of the medication means that they cannot afford the proper treatment to manage their disease, which can lead to serious health problems. Adherence to medication is crucial for people with arthritis as it mitigates the damage inflicted on the joints and other co-morbidities that can develop with arthritis.

The Arthritis Society is pleased to see within the new catastrophic drug plan in New Brunswick an effort to ensure the premium costs are spread out over the entire year. Susan Tilley-Russell states, “This is a factor that we have been asking to have changed in other provinces because the upfront costs of the premium can be a barrier to treatment for people with high-cost medications.” The Arthritis Society is also pleased to see a wide range of medications are covered that reflects the coverage under the provincial formulary and the coverage of medications is not capped based upon certain high-cost medications that are required to treat chronic diseases such as arthritis.

About The Arthritis Society

The Arthritis Society is dedicated to a vision of Living well while creating a future without arthritis. It is Canada’s principal health charity providing education, programs and support to 4.6 million Canadians with arthritis and their loved ones. Since its founding in 1948, The Society has been the largest non-government funder of arthritis research in Canada by investing more than $180 million in projects that have led to breakthroughs in the diagnosis, treatment and care of people with arthritis. In New Brunswick alone, nearly 125,000 people are currently battling arthritis, making it one of the province’s most common chronic conditions.


Adam Richardson
Communications Coordinator – Maritime Region
The Arthritis Society
902.429.7025 ext. 222
1.800.321.1433 ext. 222

Nick Langley
Public Affairs Manager – Maritime Region
The Arthritis Society
902.429.7025 ext. 237
1.800.321.1433 ext. 237