BUDGET 2012: PROVINCE TO PROVIDE FREE CANCER DRUGS FOR ALL PATIENTS
Winnipeg, Manitoba April 19, 2012
Coverage Will Eliminate Financial Burdens For Patients, Families: Selinger
Premier Greg Selinger today announced the government will help support cancer patients and their families by making oral cancer drugs free for Manitobans, eliminating deductibles and covering the cost of necessary support drugs that patients may need during their treatment.
"This budget will help patients focus on their health rather than worrying about the financial burden expensive cancer drugs have on their lives and families," said Selinger. "Our government is proud to be covering the cost of cancer treatment medicine and support drugs for patients at home no matter where they live in our province."
Currently, the province covers the full cost of cancer medications when they are administered at CancerCare Manitoba (CCMB) facilities. Until today the cost of oral cancer medications taken outside of a health facility were the responsibility of the patient, with coverage available through drug plans such as Manitoba Pharmacare with its income-based deductible. Some newer cancer drugs can cost thousands of dollars per month.
"Starting today, the new Home Cancer Drug Program will cover 100 per cent of the cost of oral cancer treatment and support drugs, with no deductibles," said Health Minister Theresa Oswald. "This will also save some patients time and the inconvenience of having to go to the hospital for treatment. They can now take their medication in the comfort of their own home."
Some cancer patients require specialized medications and chemotherapies, which were previously only available in hospitals through intravenous drip or injection. However, over the last few years through medical advancements there have been a growing number of cancer medications and chemotherapy treatments that have become available in oral form, allowing patients to take the medicine at home and at their convenience instead of going to the hospital for treatment.
"These new oral cancer drugs are quite expensive, leaving many patients unable to afford them up until today. In the past, many patients have decided to travel to the hospital for treatment because they couldn't afford the oral medication. For some rural patients, this can mean a lot of travel," said Oswald.
"This announcement will have a profound impact on Manitoba families battling cancer in every corner of this province," said Mark McDonald, executive director of the Canadian Cancer Society Manitoba Division. "We've talked to people in Flin Flon, Brandon, Teulon, Steinbach and Winnipeg who will no longer have to choose between their health and their family's financial well-being. This announcement allows cancer patients to focus their energy on beating cancer rather than worrying about drug costs and putting a financial burden on their family."
In addition to approved oral cancer treatment medications, the province will also fully cover the cost of appropriate cancer support drugs, which include anti-nausea medications to counter the difficult side-effects of chemotherapy treatments.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, Manitoba and Saskatchewan are now the only two provinces in Canada to fully cover the cost of both oral treatments and support drugs no matter where they are taken.
"On behalf of our patients, CancerCare Manitoba thanks the provincial government for this very important next step towards a comprehensive, sustainable, provincial oncology drug program," said Dr. Dhali Dhaliwal, president and CEO of CancerCare Manitoba. "The Manitoba Home Cancer Drug Program enables cancer specialists to better tailor appropriate treatment for cancer patients through the safe and effective use of expensive drugs."
It's estimated that 6,100 Manitobans will be diagnosed with cancer this year.
"Everyone is touched by cancer in some way ? it may affect our parents, neighbours and friends. In this budget we're ensuring that every Manitoban can access world-class cancer care whenever and wherever they need it," said Selinger.
To enrol in the new Home Cancer Drug Program, which covers 100 per cent of eligible oral cancer treatment and support medications starting today, patients should contact CancerCare Manitoba Pharmacy at 204-787-4591.
More information is available at www.cancercare.mb.ca.
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