Monday, March 09, 2009

Alberta cancer patients win drug funding

From the Calgary Herald:
Tears of joy greeted the Stelmach government's announcement Thursday that it will spend an estimated $5 million a year to fund the colorectal cancer treatment Avastin--making Alberta one of the last provinces to cover the controversial drug.

With cancer patients looking on, Health Minister Ron Liepert told the legislature the province will begin funding Avastin on April 1, following an Alberta Health Services Board recommendation Thursday that the pricey drug be covered.

"At the end of the day, what we want to do is what is right,"Liepert told reporters. "The decision is the right one."

The decision follows an Alberta Cancer Board recommendation in January that government fund Avastin for the treatment of advanced colon cancer.

Avastin has been at the centre of a national debate about costly cancer drugs, but the board endorsed the therapy after reviewing studies showing it can modestly extend survival for those suffering from colon cancer.

The health minister announced the decision Thursday after Calgary-Currie Liberal MLA Dave Taylor brought patients and family members to the legislature to plead their case. ...more

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