Arthritis Consumer Experts

Arthritis Consumer Experts
Canadian Arthritis Network

Canadian Arthritis Network

April 25, 2007 09:00 ET

Ground-breaking Initiative: Canadian Arthritis Network Surveys Public on Future Arthritis Research Priorities

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA and TORONTO, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - April 25, 2007) - The Canadian Arthritis Network (CAN) and Arthritis Consumer Experts (ACE) are calling on people with arthritis and the public to tell them what areas of research are of greatest importance to them by launching the "Help the Canadian Arthritis Network Create a World Without Arthritis" Survey.

"As the first federally funded research institute focusing solely on arthritis, the CAN is fully committed to developing its future program and activities on the needs of Canadians with arthritis - as defined by them," says Dr. John Esdaile, Scientific Director and CEO of the CAN. "Since its inception, the CAN has benefited from the direct involvement and leadership of people of all walks and ages of life living with some form of arthritis. By volunteering side-by-side with CAN researchers and participating in the CAN's governance, people with arthritis have revolutionized health research, not only in Canada but around the world. It is a model for how to make health research truly relevant to those it is supposed to serve.

Anne Fouillard, co-chair of the CAN's Consumer Advisory Council and person living with osteoarthritis, says that surveying the public about what areas of research to fund is at a critical juncture:

"The CAN has only five more years of federal funding left and wants to ensure that it continues to research areas of greatest importance to people living with arthritis. The CAN research must be relevant, and the organization needs to find ways to sustain itself beyond the end of its federal funding in 2012. We want millions of people with arthritis, their families and those interested in the disease responding to the Survey - it's a key piece in planning the CAN's future."

There are 4.5 million Canadians living with the disease(1), yet arthritis research in Canada receives only about two percent of all federal health research funding. The burden of the disease on the health care system is estimated to be $18 billion annually - one of the largest cost drivers in the health care system today.

"Federal and provincial governments have yet to appropriately recognize arthritis and research into it in the way it has HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes, among other well-funded disease areas," says Cheryl Koehn, president of ACE and a person living with rheumatoid arthritis. "A number of types of arthritis - there are over 100 - kill as effectively as cancer and HIV/AIDS. This inequity must be addressed, and we're asking Canadians with arthritis and the public to be a part of the solution. We feel the future of arthritis research is in their hands."

"Increased research funding into the root causes of arthritis and its treatment can change the bleak picture we see before us," says Dr. Esdaile, "but we need to make certain that research is adequately funded and addresses the needs of Canadians living with the disease and the millions of people who are going to get it over the next three decades."

To take the "Help the Canadian Arthritis Network Create a World Without Arthritis" Survey, visit www.arthritissurvey.org. The future of arthritis research in Canada is in your hands.

The CAN is funded by the Networks of Centres of Excellence program, a federal health research initiative. The CAN's membership includes 168 clinical researchers and scientists from universities and institutions across Canada. They are world leaders in innovative multi-disciplinary arthritis research.

Arthritis Consumer Experts is a national grassroots organization led by people living with over 100 different types of arthritis. They conduct evidence-based education workshops and publications (JointHealth™ monthly, JointHealth™ express and JointHealth™ podcasts). Their work is free to the public through unrestricted grants from private and public sector organizations.

Additional Background Information

Arthritis Facts and Figures

What is arthritis

- Arthritis is a disease that causes joint inflammation affecting the lives of over 4 millions Canadians and their families.

- It is estimated that, by 2016, over 6 million Canadians will be living with arthritis.

- Arthritis is the leading cause of deformity and long-term disability in Canada.

- In 1998, arthritis or related conditions were the underlying cause in 2.4 deaths per 100,000 in Canada, making arthritis a more common underlying cause of death than melanoma, asthma or HIV/AIDS-especially among women.

What arthritis costs Canada

- One of the major reasons why people over 65 years of age visit their family physician.

- Arthritis and its related conditions cost $17.8 billion annually and costs are rising (ICES 2004).

- Long-term disability accounted for almost 80% of the economic costs of arthritis in 1998, at nearly $3.4 billion; the 35-64 year age group incurred 70% of these costs.

- The economic burden of musculoskeletal conditions in Canada accounted for 10.3% of the total economic burden of illness but only 1.3% of health science research.

How arthritis affects wait times

- Arthritis is the cause of 80-90% of wait lists for joint replacement.

- Wait times related to joint replacement exceed all other waiting times in Canada.

- Joint replacements are being done at earlier ages and this increases the potential that a second replacement will be needed.

Arthritis in Aboriginal Canadians

- Overall, 19% of Aboriginal people reported having arthritis-equivalent to 27% if the Aboriginal population had the same age composition as the overall Canadian population.

The impact of rheumatoid arthritis compared to breast cancer

- By examining British Columbia Ministry of Health data(2), Dr. Diane Lacaille of the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada, learned that new cases of rheumatoid arthritis, a serious, disabling and life-threatening disease, rose throughout the 1990's.

- Based on current demographics, the incidence of rheumatoid arthritis is growing; the rate of permanent disability is rising, as is the incidence of co-morbidities resulting in death.

- This alarming trend is due in part to significant delays in access to diagnosis and specialist care, and highly restricted access to the latest treatments targeted at the molecules that promote inflammation (like they mass to create a cancer tumour) and destroys joints and other vital organs such as the lungs, eyes and heart. These failings are a direct result of insufficient research funding into this type, and dozens of other types of arthritis disease.

- In comparison, the Canadian Cancer Society in BC web site(3) reports that in general, incidence and death rates for the majority of cancer sites have stabilized or declined during the past decade.

- Breast cancer death rates have declined in all ages combined and in every age group since at least the mid 1990s.(4)

- Incidence and death rates for breast cancer have declined since 1969 in women aged 20-39.(5)

- These advances are a result of the development of new, tumor targeted therapies and timely access to all types of treatments, including specialist care. But the very foundation of these advancements came from significant investment in breast cancer research.

(1) Arthritis Community Research and Evaluation Unit. The Burden of Arthritis in Canada: 2005 Estimates. ACREU Arthritis Update 2007. Apr. 1(1).

(2) Lacaille, D. Arthritis Research Centre of Canada

(3) Canada-wide trends in incidence and death. Canadian Cancer Society;2007. http://www.bc.cancer.ca/ccs/internet/standard/0,3182,3278_14435__langId-
en,00.html (Due to the length of this URL, it may be necessary to copy and paste this hyperlink into your internet browser's URL address field). (Accessed April 18, 2007)

(4) Canada-wide trends in incidence and death. Canadian Cancer Society;2007. http://www.bc.cancer.ca/ccs/internet/standard/0,3182,3278_14435__langId-
en,00.html (Due to the length of this URL, it may be necessary to copy and paste this hyperlink into your internet browser's URL address field). (Accessed April 18, 2007)

(5) Canada-wide trends in incidence and death. Canadian Cancer Society;2007. http://www.bc.cancer.ca/ccs/internet/standard/0,3182,3278_14435__langId-
en,00.html (Due to the length of this URL, it may be necessary to copy and paste this hyperlink into your internet browser's URL address field). (Accessed April 18, 2007)

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