MS advocates fight for provincial drug coverage
Published Monday, October 15, 2007 8:03AM EDT
TORONTO - MS advocates say an expert panel's advice that provinces and territories not cover the cost of two Multiple Sclerosis drugs creates a system of two-tiered care.
They say it leaves people with the disease, who don't have private drug insurance, unable to afford medication that could slow progression of the condition and ease the pain they suffer.
Late last month, the Common Drug Review advised governments not to cover the cost of the MS pain medication Sativex.
A similar recommendation was issued in the spring for Tysabri, a drug that slows progression of the disease.
The MS Society argues those decisions put the drugs out of reach for many people with the progressive, debilitating disease.
It says up to 80 per cent of MS sufferers can't work full-time -- so private health care isn't an option.
The society estimates up to 75, 000 Canadians have MS.
Dr. Paul O'Connor, head of the MS clinic at Toronto's St. Michael's Hospital, says it's frustrating -- because he'd like his patients on public assistance to have the same access to treatments as patients with private drug plans.