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February 19, 2009
For immediate release
Cancer, COPD, Osteoporosis Drugs Added to Formulary as Province Begins Modernization of Drug Programs
Social Services and Seniors
The province is investing $1.6 million to cover drugs that will improve the quality of life for approximately 1200 Islanders, with almost three-quarters of the funding being allocated to high-cost cancer drugs.
The funding is being redirected after internal reviews revealed savings in the pharmacy budget, because of increased use of generic drugs and the under-utilization of some programs. The new investment in the formulary will also be incorporated into future budgets.
Today’s announcement is the first step toward modernizing Prince Edward Island’s drug programs. A complete review of the drug programs is now underway, looking at ways to make the system more equitable and accessible for Islanders.
“I am very pleased to announce our government is fulfilling our commitment and our responsibility to Islanders by beginning an extensive review of our drug programs,” said Premier Robert Ghiz. “Residents of our province have been waiting for more than a decade for these changes and, as an interim step, our formulary will be expanded to include high-cost cancer drugs, and medications for the treatment of COPD and osteoporosis,” said Premier Ghiz.
Prince Edward Island is investing a total of $1.1 million dollars per year to cover five high-cost cancer drugs: Sutent, Nexavar, Sprycel, Tarceva, and Fludara. Patients must meet established clinical criteria, and an income assessment will be completed to determine the co-pay amount. Coverage will also be provided for chemotherapy patients who require three adjunctive therapy medications. In total, these cancer medications will assist approximately 50 people on Prince Edward Island.
People diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, and who meet established clinical criteria can also qualify to receive additional drugs including Spiriva. These drugs have been found to significantly improve quality of life in patients with COPD and will reduce the number of physician visits and hospitalizations caused by breathing difficulties. The province is investing $400,000 per year in COPD medications to benefit 650 people.
Social Services and Seniors Minister Doug Currie also announced that 500 people with osteoporosis who meet established clinical criteria would benefit from additional drugs, including Fosamax. At a total cost of $125,000 per year, these medications will help strengthen bones weakened by osteoporosis and will reduce the number of bone fractures and hospitalizations resulting from falls. Some of the osteoporosis drugs were recommended for coverage 10 years ago.
Minister Currie said he and his provincial and territorial colleagues will continue strongly lobbying the federal government to lead and fund a national drug strategy, including specific measures to address the coverage of catastrophic drugs.
“The escalating cost of drug coverage is a challenge for every province and territory, not just Prince Edward Island. All provinces are feeling pressure, and that’s why the other health ministers and I have been working together to map out a national pharmaceutical strategy that will ensure equitable access to all drugs for all Canadians,” he said. “We need the federal government to help fund a national program, so our medicare system in Canada can truly be called universal,” said Minister Currie.
Today’s announcement builds on the ongoing progress Minister Currie and his staff have been making since 2007 to improve the quality of health care in Prince Edward Island. Since 2007, Minister Currie has led the investment of $7.6 million in new funding for the drug programs, directed toward the coverage of blood glucose test strips, high-cost cancer medications and investments in the Cancer Treatment Centre, and increases in the drug programs budget to address rising demand.
During that time, Minister Currie’s Department of Health has also implemented 22 necessary improvements that were identified in the Prince Edward Island Cancer Control Strategy, focusing on prevention, treatment and reducing wait times.
Patients receiving treatment for cancer, COPD or osteoporosis should contact their physician to enquire about coverage of the medications announced today. Coverage begins on March 1, 2009.
The following is a breakdown of medications that will be added to Prince Edward Island's drug formulary effective March 1, 2009. The condition for which the drug is prescribed is listed in brackets, followed by the total annual investment allocated for each drug.
(1) Cancer Drugs:
Coverage of the following medications will be provided through the High Cost Drugs program to cancer patients who meet established clinical criteria. An income assessment will also be completed to determine the co-pay amount.
· Fludara (chronic lymphocytic leukemia) - $52,000
· Nexavar (hepatocellular carcinoma and metastatic clear cell renal cell carcinoma) - $201,000
· Sprycel (chronic myelogenous leukemia and Philadelphia chromosone acute lymphoblastic leukemia) - $28,000
· Sutent (metastatic clear cell renal cell cancinoma and gastrointestinal stromal tumour) - $602,000
· Tarceva (non-small cell lung cancer) - $132,000
Coverage of the following cancer medications will be provided to patients who meet established clinical criteria and who qualify through the Family Health Benefit, Financial Assistance, Nursing Home, and Seniors Programs.
· Emend (chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting) - $20,000
· Marinol (chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting) - $17,000
· Thyrogen (diagnostic testing for thyroid cancer) - $22,000
Total number of Prince Edward Island residents estimated to benefit from cancer drugs: 50
(2) Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD):
Coverage of the following COPD medications will be provided to patients who meet established clinical criteria and who qualify through the Family Health Benefit, Financial Assistance, Nursing Home, and Seniors Programs.
· Advair - $50,000
· Oxeze/Foradil - $2,000
· Serevent - $5,000
· Spiriva - $320,000
· Symbicort - $20,000
Total number of Prince Edward Island residents estimated to benefit from COPD drugs: 650
Coverage of the following osteoporosis medications will be provided to patients who meet established clinical criteria and who qualify through the Family Health Benefit, Financial Assistance, Nursing Home, and Seniors Programs.
· Fosamax and generics - $70,000
· Actonel - $20,000
· Miacalcin - $10,000
· Didrocal - $25,000 (Coverage expanded for open benefit)
· Aclasta – No additional cost
Total number of Prince Edward Island residents estimated to benefit from osteoporosis drugs: 500