Kidney Cancer Patients in Ontario Celebrate New Chance at Life

    Kidney Cancer Canada Applauds Ontario Announcement to Fund Breakthrough

    TORONTO, Aug. 28 /CNW/ - Ontario patients with kidney cancer have renewed
hope for a chance at life, learning this week that the Ontario government will
make Nexavar - the first effective treatment to come along in 10 years for
kidney cancer patients - available through the Ontario Drug Benefit Program.
    "As a representative of Kidney Cancer Canada and kidney cancer patients
across the province, I'm delighted that Ontario has taken a leadership role in
the fight against kidney cancer," said Tony Clark, Chair of Kidney Cancer
Canada and a kidney cancer patient. "The Hon. George Smitherman, Ontario
Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Long Term Care, along with the
province itself, has shown tremendous vision in funding the first breakthrough
treatment option for kidney cancer patients. We look forward to Ontario's
continued leadership in the fight against cancer."

    A New Standard of Care

    Treatments such as Nexavar are now the standard of care in Canada - and
around the world - for a patient population previously without hope. Two
treatments, Nexavar and Sutent, were approved by Health Canada in 2006 and are
covered by most Canadian private drug plans and in more than 13 countries

    Ontario Leads the Way: Beyond the Common Drug Review (CDR)

    Earlier this year, despite international support for these drugs, the
Common Drug Review - Canada's national drug review organization - recommended
that government drug plans (outside of Quebec) not cover Nexavar.
    "The CDR decision was a devastating recommendation for Canadian kidney
cancer patients," said Clark. "These new drugs are the only truly effective
treatments for kidney cancer in history. Patients from all across Canada have
anxiously awaited news of the Ontario Government's decision."
    "We have already heard from kidney cancer patients in other provinces who
now have hope that Ontario's leadership decision to fund Nexavar will
translate into similar coverage in their home provinces," said Deborah
Maskens, co-founder of Kidney Cancer Canada. "I cannot emphasize enough how
important Ontario's decision is for the future of kidney cancer care in

    Breakthrough Treatments

    "I was fortunate to have been accepted into the clinical trial for
Nexavar - a treatment that has given me years longer to spend time with
friends and family, work and even pay taxes," said Clark. "Without Nexavar, I
wouldn't be here today."
    Two and a half years after being told by leading experts in kidney cancer
that he would be dead within a year, Clark is remarkably alive. While Nexavar
has not eradicated his disease entirely, it has significantly slowed its
progression, allowing him to lead a full and active life again.
    Clark and Maskens, who met during the clinical trials for Nexavar, were
astounded that the Canadian government would not recognize the efficacy and
long-term cost-effectiveness of new oral therapies such as Nexavar. Together,
they co-founded Kidney Cancer Canada and have worked tirelessly to raise the
profile of these new treatments across Canada.
    "The Ontario government was willing to meet with us, to listen, and to
examine data beyond the Common Drug Review process. We are most encouraged
about the changes in Ontario's drug review process that we have seen this
far," said Clark.

    Towards a New Drug Review Process in Canada

    "Flaws in the CDR's review and decision-making process were undermining
physicians' primary duty of care to their patients," stated Dr. Jennifer Knox,
an oncologist specializing in kidney cancer, at a hearing of the Standing
Committee on Health to evaluate the effectiveness of the CDR.
    "For a disease with extremely few effective treatment options, this CDR
decision would have caused Ontarians with kidney cancer to be woefully
under-treated unless our provincial government chose to disregard this flawed
advice. I strongly commend and thank all those involved in this recent
decision to fund Nexavar for Ontarians with kidney cancer."
    The fact that the CDR is not capable of effectively reviewing cancer
treatments has already been acknowledged by federal, provincial and
territorial governments. In a move to build more consistent review of cancer
drugs across the country, a collaboration of all provinces (except Quebec) has
introduced a cross-jurisdictional, interim pilot process for a single review
of cancer drugs known as the Joint Oncology Drug Review (JODR). During this
interim process, all drugs used for active treatment of cancer will be
submitted through Ontario and follow the Ontario Guidelines for Drug
Submission and Evaluation.
    Nexavar was among the first drugs to test this new review process.
British Columbia is the only other province to issue a conditional
reimbursement announcement concerning Nexavar. The province of Quebec has
initially denied coverage. All other provincial decisions are pending.

    A Chance at Life

    "Breakthrough treatments such as Nexavar and Sutent provide kidney cancer
patients with the hope of a longer, more productive life," said Ms. Maskens.
"We applaud the Provinces of Ontario and British Columbia as leaders in the
fight against kidney cancer."

    About Kidney Cancer Canada

    Kidney Cancer Canada is a patient-led support organization established
with the purpose of improving the quality of life of patients and their
families living with kidney cancer. Kidney Cancer Canada advocates for access
to new treatments, provides support and information to patients, and works to
increase awareness of kidney cancer as a significant health issue. For more
information about Kidney Cancer Canada, visit

For further information:

For further information: Tony Clark, Chair, Kidney Cancer Canada, (647)

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