Quebec Approves Avastin - Nova Scotia cancer patient asks: Mr. Premier, how can you continue to deny us this life sustaining medication?



    HALIFAX, Oct. 4 /CNW/ - The Hon. Philippe Couillard, Minister of Health,
Government of Quebec, has announced, that effective October 1, 2007, the
colorectal cancer drug Avastin (bevacizumab) will be provided to Quebec
colorectal cancer patients. Quebec now joins British Columbia and Newfoundland
and Labrador in providing approximately 40% of the nation's population with
access to this life-sustaining medication.
    Even before the medication was approved in Quebec one hospital offered
the treatment to its patients. "Despite the costs to the hospital drug budget
the clinical data supporting its use was compelling; it was the right thing to
do. Now we will be able to offer it to all patients with advanced colorectal
cancer," said Dr. Gerald Batist Director of the Center and Chair of the
Department of Oncology at McGill University.
    "Avastin enables us to provide advanced treatment for colorectal cancer.
Access to this medication allows patients to receive the most advanced
scientific treatment available in the field," said Dr. Felix Couture. Dr.
Couture wrote the guidelines for treatment of colorectal cancer for Quebec
when the medication was approved by Health Canada even before the government
had approved it for reimbursement.
    In Nova Scotia the government of Premier Rodney MacDonald has refused to
fund Avastin in spite of having received advice from leading cancer
specialists that the medical standard of care includes Avastin and that access
to it should be unrestricted.
    "Mr. Premier; why should Nova Scotians continue to die while Canadians in
other provinces are being given the opportunity to live?" asks Dartmouth
resident and colon cancer patient Jim Connors. Mr. Connors has paid for his
own Avastin, but has advocated on behalf of the many Nova Scotians with
advanced colorectal cancer who need but cannot afford Avastin.
    In a letter today, Mr. Connors called upon Premier MacDonald to show
compassion and "do the right thing and approve this drug for Nova Scotians
before more lives are lost prematurely and unnecessarily".
    "Having Avastin available for colorectal cancer patients with advanced
disease provides many patients with a real opportunity to prolong their lives.
In some cases patients may sustain long term remission or even find a cure
when coupled with surgery," said Barry D. Stein president of the Colorectal
Cancer Association of Canada (CCAC).
    "The evidence is that this medication is effective and the failure of
provinces such as Nova Scotia to approve it represents a threat to all cancer
patients who require treatment in accordance with clinical treatment
guidelines," said Stein.
    Funding decisions on Avastin are pending in several other provinces
including Ontario.

    NOTES TO EDITORS:

    About colon cancer

    Colorectal cancer - cancer of the colon or rectum - is the second leading
cause of cancer deaths overall in men and women in Canada. It is also the
second leading cause of cancer deaths in Nova Scotia. The disease surpasses
both breast and prostate cancer in mortality, and is second only to lung
cancer in numbers of cancer deaths.
    Even though it is preventable, an estimated 20,800 (800 Nova Scotia)
Canadians will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer this year, and
approximately 8,700 (350 in Nova Scotia) are estimated to die from it. An
almost equal number of men and women are diagnosed each year with colorectal
cancer in Canada.
    On average, 385 Canadians will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer every
week and 163 people will die from it every week. One in 14 men and one in 16
women are expected to develop colorectal cancer during their lifetime. One in
28 men will die from it and one in 31 women will die from it.

    About CCAC

    The Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada is a non-profit organization
whose mission is to increase awareness and educate Canadians about colorectal
cancer, support patients and their families, and advocate for a national
screening policy and timely access to treatment and diagnostics. Visit the
CCAC's website for additional information on colorectal cancer at
www.colorectal-cancer.ca or call 1.877.50 COLON (26566), 514.875.7745,
416.920.4333.

    About Jim Connors

    Jim Connors is a Dartmouth resident, business executive and former City
Councilor who has metastatic colon cancer. He has paid for his own treatment
with Avastin and advocates for timely access to effective treatment for all
Nova Scotia colorectal cancer patients.





For further information:

For further information: Jim Connors, (902) 463-6819; Barry D. Stein,
Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada, Cell: (514) 944-0200,
barrys@colorectal-cancer.ca, (514) 875-7899, or (514) 875-7745

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Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada

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