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Winter (Volume 28, Number 4)

Therapeutics Committee Update

By Mary-Ann Fitzcharles, MD, FRCPC

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This has been a particularly productive year for the CRA Therapeutics Committee. We are delighted that our membership has reached the nice round figure of 15, with representation from rheumatologists in both academia and the community, rheumatologists from across the country, and also members spanning the ages from the young, bright and enthusiastic to the more seasoned and, dare I say, grey-haired. In line with the stellar leadership of CRA CEO Ahmad Zbib, we have clearly defined standard operating procedures for reporting of conflicts of interest by committee members, response to drug shortages, development of position statements, and standards for a CRA member representing the CRA at a national/international forum, committee or advisory panel.

We have continued to alert membership to drug shortages, which this year have included most importantly myochrysine and prednisolone. We responded to a Health Canada review on immune globulin (IVIG) product supply by emphasizing the importance of this agent in the treatment of Kawasaki Disease, as well as the emerging use of IVIG in patients with childhood dermatomyositis, systemic onset juvenile polyarthritis that is poorly responsive to conventional treatments, and treatment-resistant vasculitis.

Our most important activity this year was to develop a position statement for medical cannabis use in the rheumatic diseases, as well as an update of the previous position statement for biosimilars. We are particularly excited that the medical cannabis position statement is now in press at the Journal of Rheumatology. The CRA is the first rheumatology association worldwide to come forward in this regard, and also to provide real-life pragmatic direction for rheumatologists and patients alike. We will be looking carefully at stem cell transplantation, which is currently being suggested as a treatment for many of our patients with osteoarthritis and even soft tissue rheumatism, and we will provide a position statement in this regard in early 2019. Finally, we have developed a succession plan, to ensure that our committee remains vigorous and vibrant. Therefore, I would like to warmly welcome Rosie Scuccimarri as the vice-chair of the Therapeutics Committee.

Mary-Ann Fitzcharles, MD, FRCPC
Associate Professor of Medicine,
McGill University Health Centre
Montreal, Quebec

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