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Arthritis Society leads call for easier access to therapy for childhood arthritis

Patients are asked to settle for more frequent, less effective treatments

For Canadian children living with particular forms of arthritis, a simple corticosteroid injection can help manage their pain and prevent joint damage. But accessing the drug for their patients requires Canada’s paediatric rheumatologists to engage in a complex and unreliable process that takes time away from seeing patients.

In a position paper released today, The Arthritis Society is calling on manufacturers and governments to work towards a swift resolution to ensure that young and vulnerable Canadians are able to receive timely treatment.

“Any process that places obstacles between a patient and their right to access treatment is simply unacceptable,” says Joanne Simons, chief mission officer of The Arthritis Society. “On behalf of the families whose children rely on this treatment, The Arthritis Society is working with all parties to find a solution.”

Aristospan® TH (intra-articular triamcinolone hexacetonide) is a safe, effective, and inexpensive medication that has been used for over 30 years to reduce joint inflammation and relieve pain in some children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Swift diagnosis and early treatment with the drug can help avoid painful symptoms and serious complications for growing bodies.

Valeo Pharma is the only company currently licensed to produce Aristospan® TH for sale in Canada, but they no longer manufacture the drug. Despite this gap in supply, Aristospan® TH is not currently listed on the Canadian Drug Shortage Database.

A paediatric rheumatologist who wishes to prescribe the drug for a young patient must complete a lengthy Health Canada Special Access Program (SAP) application for every six-month dose. Approved SAP requests are filled by producers who do not hold distribution rights in Canada outside of the SAP process. Health Canada reports that they process an average of 15-20 applications for access to Aristospan® TH each week for use treating children with arthritis.

“Aristospan is more effective and longer lasting than other injectable corticosteroids, allowing for more time between treatments,” explains Dr. Brian Feldman, head of Rheumatology at Toronto SickKids, and chair of The Arthritis Society’s Childhood Arthritis Advisory Council. “If it’s not available, that means these children have to face more trips to the doctor – and more painful injections. That’s bad enough when the family lives near the clinic, but it poses greater challenges for families who have to travel.”

Impacted families are encouraged to contact The Arthritis Society for more information on the Aristospan® TH issue, and for templates that can be used to communicate with their federal and provincial legislators.

It is estimated that 24,000 Canadian children and teens aged 18 and under live with arthritis, or more than three out of every 1,000 kids. It’s a startling number, particularly given the common assumption that arthritis doesn’t affect children. Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is the most frequently diagnosed form, but lupus, psoriatic arthritis, vasculitis and other forms are also found.

To learn more about arthritis in children and teens, or to help support research and programs targeted to childhood arthritis, visit


The Arthritis Society has been setting lives in motion for over 65 years. Dedicated to a vision of living well while creating a future without arthritis, The Society is Canada’s principal health charity providing education, programs and support to the over 4.6 million Canadians living with arthritis. Since its founding in 1948, The Society has been the largest non‐government funder of arthritis research in Canada, investing more than $185 million in projects that have led to breakthroughs in the diagnosis, treatment and care of people with arthritis. The Arthritis Society is accredited under Imagine Canada’s Standards Program. For more information and to make a donation, visit

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For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Jeff Jurmain
Communications Specialist – The Arthritis Society
tel: 416-979-7228 x3354


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