Wednesday, November 04, 2009

MDs press Ontario to fund rare-disease therapy

From the Globe and Mail:
The specialist physicians who treat patients suffering from a deadly heart and lung disease are pleading with provincial officials to allow them to continue "pushing the envelope" with under-studied treatments that can drastically help their sickest patients.

Some patients diagnosed with fatal pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) see their life expectancies more than double - from three years to seven or 10 in some cases - when doctors treat them with drug combinations.

While the often expensive drugs are all approved for use in Canada, the effects of combining them have not been well studied. Because of that, Ontario recently decided to cut off support for PAH patients who require more than one drug - even in cases where patients were not asking for coverage of more than one medication.

The decision remains illogical to most patients and their doctors, who were not given a detailed explanation. The province responded to queries about the criteria used to make the funding decision by repeatedly citing "a lack of evidence with respect to combination therapy." ...more

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