Ontario funds new life-enhancing treatment for kidney cancer

    Kidney cancer treatment now provided to patients in three Canadian

    TORONTO, Dec. 4 /CNW/ - Patient advocacy groups applauded today upon
hearing that kidney cancer patients in Ontario will be able to receive Sutent
under the Ontario Drug Benefit Plan for the treatment of metastatic (advanced)
kidney cancer. Ontario joins Quebec and British Columbia as the only provinces
in Canada to list Sutent for this indication.
    "We are thrilled by the Ontario government's decision to respond to the
needs of kidney cancer patients," says Tony Clark, Chair, Kidney Cancer
Canada, a patient support and advocacy organization committed to improving
quality of life for patients living with kidney cancer. "Patients living with
advanced kidney cancer deserve fair and equitable access to such therapies
regardless of their ability to pay or where they live. We strongly urge the
other provinces to listen to the needs of patients and make the right
    Based on this judgment, and the fact that the pan-Canadian Joint Oncology
Drug Review process (JODR) relies on recommendations from Ontario drug
reviews, advocates hope the other provinces will adopt the Ontario decision.
Historically each province and territory has taken very different decisions
about whether to pay for new cancer drugs. One of the goals of JODR was to
provide more consistent review of and access to cancer drugs across the
    "Sutent has really ushered in a new treatment era in how we treat
patients with advanced kidney cancer," says Dr. Jennifer Knox, Medical
Oncologist. "We now have a drug that can dramatically slow the growth of
tumours, offering physicians and patients a very real, promising, treatment
alternative. This is a drug that has proven to be effective, active and safe
in this disease and should be available to all appropriate patients with
kidney cancer."
    Patients like Wally Vogel in Toronto have become outspoken advocates for
access to Sutent across Canada. Four years ago, Wally was diagnosed with
advanced kidney cancer and given a five per cent chance of survival. Without
any other treatment options available, Wally began taking Sutent on a
compassionate use basis, hoping to extend his life by a few months to spend
Christmas with his young family. Wally was in partial remission after two
cycles of Sutent, and today Wally is now cancer free.
    Without public reimbursement, patients have to pay for the medicine
themselves or forego treatment. Some patients with private insurance plans may
be able to access Sutent, but 3.5 million Canadians have little or no private
insurance coverage for prescription drugs. Kidney Cancer Canada and the Cancer
Advocacy Coalition of Canada are calling on other provinces to step up for
kidney cancer patients and provide the best standard of care.
    "We are pleased with the Ontario government's decision to provide Sutent
for people who are eligible for Drug Benefit," says Colleen Savage, CEO,
Cancer Advocacy Coalition of Canada, adding, "especially as it bodes well for
approval of important new cancer drugs by the JODR in the future."
    Patient groups also commended the Ontario government's consultative
decision-making process. In the case of Sutent, patient groups met with
decision-makers to stress the importance of this drug to patients across
Ontario. "We felt that the government's intentions were positive," says
Tony Clark, "and we look forward to an increasingly transparent process for
future treatment options for kidney cancer."

    About Kidney Cancer Canada (KCC)

    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 www.kidneycancercanada.org

    About the Cancer Advocacy Coalition of Canada (CACC)

    The Cancer Advocacy Coalition of Canada is the country's only full-time,
registered, non-profit cancer group dedicated to evaluation of cancer system
performance and citizen advocacy. The CACC is not a charity and operates on
unrestricted grants from sponsors based on guidelines that ensure the
organization's autonomy. For more information visit our website at

For further information:

For further information: Tony Clark, Chair, Kidney Cancer Canada, (647)
262-0032; Colleen Savage, President & CEO, Cancer Advocacy Coalition of
Canada, Toll free 1-877-472-3436

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