COVID's impact on cancer diagnoses will be devastating, but for pancreatic cancer patients there is a drug that could help
HALIFAX, NS, Feb. 10, 2021 /CNW/ - The anticipated impact of delayed cancer diagnoses as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic will be devastating. But for pancreatic cancer patients, 50% of whom die within 4 months of diagnosis, the clock is ticking even more loudly. However, if Canadian governments will come back to the negotiating table, there is a medication that offers some hope.
Onivyde (Irinotecan Liposome) was approved by Health Canada for the treatment of metastatic pancreatic cancer. The drug has been shown to extend patients' overall survival by 45% while maintaining their quality of life. But negotiations with the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance (pCPA) ended without resolution in June 2019, meaning Onivyde is sitting on a shelf while patients lose precious time with their loved ones.
Dr. Winson Y. Cheung medical oncologist and professor with the Departments of Medicine and Oncology at the University of Calgary explained that "After many years of clinical trials, liposomal irinotecan or Onivyde has emerged as the only drug that demonstrates a survival advantage in the second line treatment of patients with advanced pancreatic cancer following gemcitabine-based chemotherapy." Cheung, also the Director of Health Services Research at Cancer Control Alberta expresses concern that "Onivyde is available in other countries, but not in Canada. This means a number of Canadian patients who would potentially benefit from Onivyde are not able to access it right now. Advanced pancreatic cancer continues to be an aggressive disease with uniformly poor outcomes, so we must do our utmost to ensure that patients are given the option to pursue all effective therapies."
Onivyde is the only second line therapy available for the treatment of pancreatic cancer. With the anticipated increase in late stage diagnoses as a result of COVID 19, gaining access to this therapy is even more critical.
"I am a Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer patient with a 3% chance of surviving three more years." Said Alexandra Robis. "I am pleading with the government to provide me and other patients like me with this critical treatment option. I lost my mother to pancreatic cancer and I will not easily surrender to this insidious disease. Few advancements have been made in the last 40 years and I'm running out of options. Help me live - I want to live !"
We are calling on all Canadian governments to come back to the pCPA negotiating table now and make Onivyde available to those who need it. Patients deserve to have access to the best treatment options so they can survive as long as possible and enjoy more time with their loved ones.
Craig's Cause Pancreatic Cancer Society
Craig's Cause Pancreatic Cancer Society is a national charity dedicated to both increasing survival and improving the quality of life for every Canadian diagnosed with pancreatic cancer through awareness raising, education, support and research.
SOURCE Craig''s Cause Pancreatic Cancer Society