MONTREAL, Oct. 21, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - The declining access to new anti-cancer drugs concerns the Coalition Priorité Cancer au Québec.
The président of the Coalition, Mrs. Nathalie Rodrigue, T.M.i, is asking the Health and Social Services Minister, Doctor Réjean Hébert, "to respond quickly to the report published a year ago by the Institut national d'excellence en santé et services sociaux, which recommends different ways to ensure access to innovative drugs for people living with cancer."
Indeed, since the beginning of 2013, out of 13 cases submitted only one new anti-cancer drug was recommended as an exceptional drug, to be added to the list of drugs that are reinboursed in Québec. Three drugs have been recommended subject to risk-sharing agreements between their manufacturers and the Department of Health and Social Services, agreements that do not exist.
This situation worries the Coalition Priorité Cancer au Québec and other patient organizations, which note that access to new anti-cancer drugs seems to have become more difficult in Québec. For example, since the beginning of 2013, the acceptance rate for reimbursing new drugs is of 31%, whereas it was 77% in 2012 and 69% in 2011. However, in other provinces, many of these new drugs are reimbursed or are on the verge of being so.
"Drugs that are refused or delayed by the Québec government are imporant and effective therapeutic tools for our cancer patients, and in some cases they prolong life," adds Dr. Marie Florescu, hematologist-oncologist at the Notre-Dame Hospital. "We regularly meet the government's refusal with disappointment and frustation. It's an aberration because the research is there to enable us to improve the fight against cancer and when at last we have an effective drug, it is refused. This digression, taken by the government, is very worrying. Cutting the best drugs for cancer patients is miscalculating."
For Mrs. Nicole Girouxii, member of the Coalition's Cancer Patients and Survivors Committee, "the uncertainties and delays surrounding the access to new anti-cancer drugs in Québec punish patients. This can no longer continue. The evolution of cancers is not affected by administrative delays. When it's possible to rely on proven therapeutic method, which can have a positive effect on the well-being and the survival of patients, it's imperative to make them promptly accessible and at an affordable cost."
When it comes to the development of personalized cancer care, which is made possible by the discovery and introduction of drugs that are much more specific and efficient, access to breakthrough drugs for the Québec population is a collective issue. "The Coalition has long ago proposed to hold a public debate on this issue. It's time to initiate this discussion, to revise the way we do things and to establish a consensus that will ensure equitable access to durgs and to innovative treatments," said Ms. Nathalie Rodrigue.
The number of new cancer cases is estimated at over 50,000 in Québec this year. More than 20,000 people will die of cancer, which is the leading cause of death in Québec.
Furthermore, the Coalition recalls Priority 3 of the Health and Social Services Department's 2013-2015 Cancer Action Plan:
"The therapeutic course of the person in who we fear the presence of cancer begins with the investigation, diagnosis and staging, based on a thorough clinical assessment accompanied if necessary by endoscopic tests, imaging, cytology, biochemistry and pathology (including molecular pathology). Treatments, surgery, radiotherapy and systemic treatments may target healing (complete remission), the prolongation of survival or relief of symptoms and restoration of optimal functional state."
The following drugs have been refused or postponed: Aloxim (Prevention of nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy) Stivargam (treats metastatic colorectal cancer) and Adcetrism (for the treatment of Hodgkin's lymphoma). AfinitorMC drugs for the treatment of metastatic or advanced breast cancer and XalkoriMC for the treatment of lung cancer are kept under review and deferred for the next list to be presented in February 2014.
About the Coalition Priorité Cancer au Québec
Coalition Priorité Cancer au Québec was founded in 2001 to protect, support and give a voice to people affected by cancer (patients, survivors, informal caregivers, their families and their loved ones, as well as cancer-related community organizations and health professionals) and to help organize the fight against cancer.
Because of the contribution of these organizations and members, the Coalition's membership represents close to 1.5 million people.
i Mrs. Rodrigue is president of l'Ordre professionnel des technologistes médicaux du Québec
ii Mrs. Giroux is director for Quebec, of the Canadian Cancer Kidney Association
SOURCE: Coalition Priorité Cancer au Québec
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