Health Canada has approved the drug Stelara for treating adults with moderate to severe Crohn's disease, but the cost of the drug is high.

Iain Chisholm was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease while on a family vacation when he was just 11-years-old.

“I got really, really sick, really, really quick, I didn’t really know what was going on, I was just having frequent bowel movements, weight loss, lethargic, just not feeling like doing anything,” he said. “After being on summer vacation and coming home, my parents looked at me and said there is something very, very wrong with you right now.”

The disease disrupts daily life in multiple ways, often making it hard to go to work or social events, and can have serious long-term consequences.

“When it gets bad, it gets really bad, you can get perforations in your bowel, ulceration all throughout, swelling of the intestine, and that can lead to bowel resections and some pretty crazy stuff,” said Chisholm.

He isn’t alone, with many sufferers dealing with the disease in Canada.

“Crohn’s Disease unfortunately is a very Canadian disease, there are more than 125,000 sufferers with Crohn’s Disease, it’s actually more prevalent than Multiple Sclerosis and we have one of the highest incidence and prevalence rates in the world,” said Remo Panaccione, Inflammatory Bowel Disease Clinic.

But there is a new weapon in the battle against Crohn’s Disease, the drug Stelara, which blocks the series of proteins in the disease that cause inflammation. A shot is administered at home by the patients, who can do so sometimes just a few times a year.

“If you have a chronic disease and you need to be on therapy, taking an injection every two to three months is something that is very beneficial, not only beneficial and convenient for the patients, but it allows them to lead a normal quality of life,” said Panaccione.

Chisholm was approved for a clinical trial for the drug and said it has made a huge difference. But the drug isn’t free, and it’s very expensive.

“It's in the same range as other what we call biologic drugs so you are looking at about $20,000 to $25,000 Canadian dollars per year,” said Panaccione.

Not all drug plans cover the drug, and even for ones that do, not all patients are covered, something Crohns and Colitis Canada is working to change.

Check out the Crohns and Colitis Canada website for more information on the disease.

To learn more about Stelara, log on to the Janssen Pharmaceutical website.