RICHMOND HILL, ON, June 14, 2012 /CNW/ - If after battling brain cancer for years, with no traditional treatment
options left, your physician prescribed a drug that could prolong your
life - how much would you pay?
In Ontario, 6 months will cost you $26,000. $26,000 of your hard-earned,
after-tax dollars to get the treatment your physician prescribed. For
Canadians living in B.C., Manitoba or Newfoundland, the cost of the
same drug is zero.
Since January 2012, 56-year-old Ken Kotyluk of Richmond Hill, ON, has
had Avastin treatments every 3 weeks. Cost to date: $21,000. Having
exhausted all other therapies for brain cancer and defied the odds for
more than 5 ½ years, Ken's physician, Dr. James R. Perry, Head of
Neurology at Toronto's Sunnybrook Hospital prescribed Avastin, from
Hoffmann-LaRoche. Dr. Perry's monthly MRI scans show that the
spidery-type tumours found in the highly malignant form of brain cancer
called glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) have not progressed since
treatments began. But Ken has to keep coming with the cash. $1,000 a
week for as long as what the medical community calls Progression-Free
Survival (PFS) continues.
Dr. Perry's request to the Ontario Public Drug Programs Division
requesting funding for ONE month's worth of coverage to measure
treatment outcomes was declined. In B.C., Manitoba and Newfoundland,
Avastin coverage is defined as "supportive care." In Ontario, the
OPDP requires Avastin to prove a "survival advantage." It's not
possible to prove how much longer a patient lives, but it is beyond
debate that the drug does halt disease progression. If Ken can no
longer afford to pay for treatment and tumour growth resumes,
hospitalization will soon follow where the cost to Ontario's healthcare
system will quickly exceed the cost of covering Avastin in the first
place. Patients in similar circumstances will lose the chance to learn
more about coping with this devastating disease.
Ontario's Ministry of Health touts special programs for special needs,
but there's no department that will provide the financial coverage to
ensure treatment is continued and learnings are shared. For residents
of B.C., Manitoba and Nfld., in the absence of a cure there is care.
For brain cancer patients in Ontario, the burden of cost competes with
the burden of health.
Ken Kotyluk and his wife have a website, www.helpsupportken.com and a Facebook Page: Life Saving Drug Coverage Coalition, calling for similar stories
about the real cost of healthcare in this province.
Image with caption: "AvastinIV is given intravenously to decrease the blood supply to the tumour and thereby slow tumour growth. (CNW Group/Brooking Media Consulting Inc.) (CNW Group/SUNNYBROOK HEALTH SCIENCES CENTRE)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20120614_C8581_PHOTO_EN_15117.jpg
SOURCE SUNNYBROOK HEALTH SCIENCES CENTRE
For further information:
Kathleen Fanstone & Ken Kotyluk
SUNNYBROOK HEALTH SCIENCES CENTRE
CSR Office: 416-480-4040 for Dr. Perry