TORONTO, May 14, 2013 /CNW/ - Earlier this year, Canadians diagnosed
with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) were elated to hear that the
first medication was finally available to help them fight this rare and
deadly lung disease. Months later, these patients are surprised and
dismayed to be facing barriers to accessing this potentially
life-extending treatment, but they refuse to give up their new-found
Despite the severity of the disease, the absence of other treatment
options, and a priority review granted by Health Canada based on
significant unmet clinical need, the Canadian Expert Drug Committee
through the Common Drug Review (CDR) has recommended that public drug
programs keep Esbriet® (pirfenidone) out of reach of most IPF patients
who are in dire need of the new treatment.
"While we are disappointed with this step in the process, we remain
hopeful that the provinces and territories will do what is right and
urgently needed, and respond to our urgent plea for access to the first
and only treatment for this terrible disease," said Robert Davidson,
president and founder of the Canadian Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation
(CPFF). "Too many patients die waiting for treatment, and we will
continue our crusade in their memory to ensure others have a chance for
improved quality of life."
Hope for a chance to fight back tied to treatment access
In Canada, Esbriet is indicated for the treatment of mild to moderate
IPF in adult patients. It has been shown to decrease the decline in
lung function, slow the progression of the disease and preserve
exercise tolerance. Prior to the approval of Esbriet by Health Canada
in October 2012, Canadians diagnosed with this devastating disease had
no proven treatment option available to help them, and therefore little
hope of fighting back.
Since Esbriet is not yet publicly funded by the provincial or
territorial drug programs, patients can only access the treatment
through private insurance or personal financial means. This is
especially devastating for the senior patient population this disease
typically affects, who no longer have private coverage and rely on
public drug funding for access to treatment.
"The harsh reality is that until we take that critical next step and
Esbriet is funded by provincial and territorial drug programs, many IPF
patients who desperately need this medication will have no hope of
accessing it. The disease will continue to progress and they will die.
That's why an expedited funding decision is urgently needed," added
Davidson. "IPF patients all across the country who rely on their
governments for drug coverage deserve a long-awaited chance to fight
Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) is a rare, progressive and fatal
lung disease that has no known cause. It is characterized by scarring
of the lungs, which hinders a patient's ability to breathe. Up to
30,000 Canadians are believed to be affected by all forms of PF, with
an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 suffering from mild to moderate IPF.
Typically diagnosed later in life, IPF has a life expectancy of just
two to five years, which is similar to many other malignant diseases,
including lung, breast and colon cancer. However, some rapidly
progressing cases can be lethal within months of diagnosis.
About the Canadian Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation
The Canadian Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (CPFF) is a registered
not-for-profit charitable organization established to provide support,
hope and resources for those affected by pulmonary fibrosis. Robert
Davidson, president of the CPFF, who had IPF and received a double lung
transplant in January 2010, founded the organization in 2009 to help
educate others, and to answer those non-medical questions frequently
asked by those suffering with the disease. For more information, visit www.cpff.ca.
SOURCE: Canadian Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation
For further information:
Tonya Johnson/Lauren Harrison
Cohn & Wolfe
416-924-5700 ext. 4077/4034