To the Editor,
I wish to let Islanders know what a lack of access to a chemotherapy drug means to patients in this province.
Multiple Myeloma is a blood cancer affecting the bone marrow for which there is no cure. While there are some therapies available, they require frequent hospital visits or admissions. In some cases these treatments are not effective or stop working. However, there is an oral drug called Revlimid, often it is the only effective treatment when all other methods have failed to keep the disease in remission.
The problem is this medication costs over $10,000 a month. We met with the oncologist recently and we were not even given this treatment option. Other traditional chemotherapies were discussed, but it was not until we asked about Revlimid that it was even considered, at which time we were asked “Why, are you rich?”
Imagine having a treatment available that has been proven to extend and improve the quality of your life but it is not covered. Prince Edward Island is the only province in Canada that has not added this cancer medication to their formulary. Every other province in in this country provides this treatment free of charge.
Some patients on P.E.I. have no option but to participate in research trials. This requires traveling to Halifax at least once or twice a week. The other option is to move to another province so you could have access to this treatment, leaving behind your medical team, your family and your friends when you need them the most.
A cancer diagnosis is extremely stressful, but on top of that you now have to decide to financially burden your family or not take the treatment.
Perhaps Health Minister Doug Currie can explain why we have a Catastrophic Drug Plan in place, that only covers drugs that are already on the P.E.I. formulary, and this vital, oral, chemotherapy medication is not included.
It is my hope that the minister will approve this drug immediately so Islanders living and dealing with Multiple Myeloma can have the treatment they need and deserve.