Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Battle erupts over B.C. funding for eye treatment

From the Globe and Mail:
British Columbia has become the first province in Canada to pay for a relatively inexpensive drug that can help stop the progression and even reverse the effects of wet macular degeneration.

But not everybody is happy about it. A drug company that sells a similar treatment at a much higher cost said the decision could put the health of patients at risk - the latest chapter in a long-brewing battle over the two treatments.

The issue began to unfold Wednesday, when the B.C. government announced it will provide funding for Lucentis, an expensive breakthrough drug that has proven effective in fighting the progressive eye disease. At the same time, the government said it will become the first province in Canada to fund Avastin as a macular degeneration treatment.

Avastin was originally developed to treat colorectal cancer and isn't approved by Health Canada for use as an eye treatment. But significant anecdotal research indicates the drug has similar effects to Lucentis, and many ophthalmologists in Canada, the United States and Britain have been using it to treat macular degeneration. ...more

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