Global News – Joseph Petrilli said he cried for a long time when he heard that Health Canada approved a new drug that could help dramatically improve the symptoms he suffers from living with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (PPMS), a debilitating form of the disease.

“Overwhelmed, overwhelmed,” Petrilli said from his apartment in Montreal’s NDG neighbourhood.

“My Facebook page has blown up today. I would have to say for the first few minutes I just sat there and cried. But this time it was tears of joy. It’s a good day for all MS patients across the country. It’s a huge day.”

On Wednesday, Health Canada approved Ocrevus as a drug that can be used for patients suffering from Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. Its American counterpart — the FDA — approved the drug last March.

Petrilli says he’s communicated with many American patients on online forums who have taken the drug, and they say it has worked wonders for them.

“I have one friend, Betty, she was in a wheelchair. I think within two weeks of her infusion, she was walking 40 steps with no aide at all. I mean it’s a game-changer. It is absolutely a game-changer,” Petrilli said.

Petrilli says he’s communicated with many American patients on online forums who have taken the drug, and they say it has worked wonders for them.

“I have one friend, Betty, she was in a wheelchair. I think within two weeks of her infusion, she was walking 40 steps with no aide at all. I mean it’s a game-changer. It is absolutely a game-changer,” Petrilli said.

“It’s a debilitating disease that I would guess you can say just gently eats away at you over time.”

“Primary progressive MS I believe is the worst form of MS. Up until today, there is not very much that could have been done for patients.”

Petrilli said doctors have only been able to give him painkillers to help handle the disease.

It’s now up to individual provinces to decide who qualifies for the drug.

Petrilli says he can’t wait to start taking the drug, and he’s hopeful it will make a big difference to his life.

“It is going to affect thousands and thousands of people across this nation,” he said. “With the experience with what I am seeing with the group in the States, people’s lives have changed.”