Message from the Minister of Health on ALS Awareness Month

Statement

June 28, 2022 | Ottawa, ON | Canadian Institutes of Health Research

June is ALS Awareness Month and I want to extend my support to the approximately 3,000 Canadians living with ALS, or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. The Government of Canada is committed to working with the ALS community to bring hope and a better quality of life to patients and their families.

ALS is a relentlessly progressive, fatal motor neuron disease that eventually leads to the loss of the ability to move, speak, and breathe. The disease can progress swiftly with four out of five people dying within two to five years of their diagnosis. On top of the mental and physical distress of this disease, it also has a tremendous emotional and financial impact on families and loved ones.

We understand that ALS patients want access to the latest treatments that may offer help with the disease and recognize the great need for new treatment options in Canada. That is why in early June, Health Canada authorized the drug ALBRIOZA for the treatment of ALS, making Canada the first country in the world to authorize ALBRIOZA for sale. While this is a positive step forward in the advancement of available treatment options for people living with ALS, there is still more work to do and Health Canada will continue to review regulatory submissions for ALS treatments as quickly as possible without compromising safety.

We also know that research is key to finding new treatments for ALS. Canadian researchers have been pioneers in ALS research and clinical care. This began in the 1970s, with the work of the late Dr. Arthur Hudson, a neurologist and scientist at Western University in London, Ontario, who established the first ALS clinic in Canada and helped create the ALS Society of Canada.

In the decades that have followed, Canada's tight-knit ALS research community has consistently punched above its weight, making significant advances in our understanding of the disease. We have been proud to actively support the work of Canada's ALS researchers. Over the past five years, for example, we have provided funding of $41 million through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) for research related to ALS. This funding is supporting the work of scientists such as Dr. Jean-Pierre Julien at Université Laval whose groundbreaking research on the proteins involved in ALS has identified potential new targets for therapeutics.

To change ALS from a terminal to a treatable disease, we need to move fundamental scientific discoveries into clinical trials. In Budget 2021, our government provided $250 million to CIHR to create the Clinical Trials Fund, which will provide new funding for clinicals, including those targeting ALS.

I want to express my appreciation to the ALS Society of Canada for everything they do to support Canadians living with ALS and their families. We are committed to working together towards a future without ALS.

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Health
Government of Canada

Contacts

Marie-France Proulx
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health
613-957-0200

Media Relations
Canadian Institutes of Health Research
mediarelations@cihr-irsc.gc.ca

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