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April 1, 2015
For immediate release

New $1.5 million investment will provide Islanders with access to 18 new medications

Premier's Office

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The provincial government is investing $1.5 million to provide Islanders with better access to high cost medications.

Beginning this month, 18 new medications will be added to the provincial drug formulary to improve treatment and lower the cost of drugs for patients with cancer, diabetes, lung disease, psoriasis, blood vessel disease and schizophrenia.

Premier Wade MacLauchlan said prescription drug therapy is an increasingly effective treatment option and one of the fastest growing areas of health care.

“Providing Islanders with good access to new medications will continue to be a priority for this government,” said the Premier. “I am encouraged by the progress being made to provide Islanders with access to newer drugs. We will continue to expand access to effective new medications, as well as programs that reduce financial hardship for families who are dealing with illness.”

Health and Wellness Minister Doug Currie said 242 new drugs and expanded coverage have been added to the provincial formulary since 2007 and investments in provincial drug programs increased by 38 per cent.

“New drug pricing and purchasing initiatives have allowed the province to fund additional medications and expand coverage for more Islanders, while managing the overall cost of provincial drug programs,” said the minister.

Effective April 27, 2015, the following medications will be added to the provincial formulary:

Cancer medications: Gleevec, Perjeta Herceptin, Zytiga, Xtandi, Zelboraf

Severe Psoriasis: Humira, Stelara, Enbrel, Remicade

Pulmonary fibrosis: Esbriet

Type 2 diabetes: Trajenta, Januvia, Janumet, Onglyza

Schizophrenia: Abilify, Latuda, Zeldox

Blood vessel disease: Rituxan

Recommendations to add drugs to the provincial formulary are made by the Provincial Drug and Therapeutics Committee which prioritizes medications based on their clinical benefits and impact on Islanders. Patients must meet clinical criteria and be registered with the provincial drug program to be eligible for drug cost assistance.

“This is an important announcement for cancer patients with metastatic breast cancer, metastatic melanoma, resistant prostate cancer and gastro intestinal cancers,” said Jane Farquharson, Executive Director of the Canadian Cancer Society, P.E.I. Division. “We view this as a positive step forward and a moment in time to be celebrated for patients who will benefit by this decision.”

The province has taken several steps in recent years to improve access to new medications. A Catastrophic Drug Program was introduced in 2013 to provide coverage for Islanders with high medication costs, and the province has committed $3 million to this program.

In 2010, the medication co-pay for the Seniors Drug Program was reduced by 25 per cent, making drugs more affordable for the 22,000 Island seniors who use the program each year.

PEI generic drug pricing measures have decreased the amount paid for generic drugs from 60 per cent of brand prices in 2011 to 25 per cent of brand prices in 2013.

Media Contact: Mary Moszynski
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