It’s been a good month for kidney cancer patients living in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario. Patients in those four provinces now have access to second-line treatment funded through their provincial drug plans.
Actually the news in those provinces is (almost) better than that. Afinitor is funded as a second OR third line treatment following Sutent or Nexavar or BOTH. Of course, access to Nexavar in most provinces is virtually impossible, so most patients will access Afinitor as their second-line treatment option.
Access is slightly different in each province. Western provinces tend to provide a cancer medication to all patients, regardless of age or income.
In Ontario, patients need to qualify for government assistance. The Ontario Drug Benefit Program provides
drug benefits for Ontarians aged 65 and older, residents of long-term care homes and homes for special care, recipients of professional home services and social assistance and recipients of the Trillium Drug Program. If you do qualify according to the stated criteria, and you do not have private insurance in Ontario, ask your local pharmacist about the Trillium Drug Program. That program may provide some protection against catastrophic drug costs depending upon your total family income level.
So what about the other six provinces?
Unfortunately, patients in MB, QC, NB, NS, NL, and PEI currently have no funded access to second-line treatment following a drug such as Sutent or Nexavar.
If you live in one of those provinces, you have every right to question your elected provincial representative why access is not available to you or your loved one.
KCC will continue to advocate in those six provinces, but we are also counting on the patients and families in those provinces to raise their voices and send in new letters. In the past, provinces in Atlantic Canada had quoted the JODR (Joint Oncology Drug Review) recommendation not to fund Afinitor. Now that Ontario has funded Afinitor, that decision is essentially overturned.
How long will it take for Atlantic provinces to fund second-line treatment? If you are a patient who progresses on first-line therapy, how long do you have to wait until they get around to re-reviewing the file?
If you need help with a letter, please get in touch and we would be happy to help. For more information, check out Join the Fight on our KCC website. http://www.kidneycancercanada.ca