Released on April 1, 2015
Saskatchewan is now providing coverage for two new lifesaving drugs for treating hepatitis C.
These new drug therapies cure 90-98 per cent of patients in as little as eight to 12 weeks compared to traditional therapies that cure 60-75 per cent of patients in 24-48 weeks.
“We are committed to providing Saskatchewan patients with better access to new and effective medications,” Health Minister Dustin Duncan said. “These two drugs offer effective, simple and fast treatment. They provide a cure for chronic hepatitis C patients and greatly improve the quality of life for those affected.”
The two new drugs, Harvoni and Sovaldi are better tolerated by patients compared to other available therapies and have the advantage of being a once daily tablet.
“We are very pleased that the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health has approved funding for these new treatments for chronic hepatitis C virus infection,” Royal University Hospital Head of the Division of Infectious Diseases Dr. Stephen Sanche said. “These medications will offer our patients a substantially greater chance of cure with fewer side effects and shorter treatment courses."
Over the next three years, the ministry expects to provide coverage for about 1,100 patients who will meet the Exception Drug Status criteria for these therapies. Through the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance, provinces and territories negotiated with the drugs’ manufacturer to leverage their collective buying power and receive better prices for new drugs.
The ministry will continue its overall efforts to lower drug costs and to negotiate the best value of new therapies through this process. Coverage for these therapies is anticipated to be $8 million to $10 million in 2015-16 , subject to utilization and the cost difference between these and existing products.
Hepatitis C is a viral disease that affects the liver. Effects of the virus range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, chronic illness, including liver scarring and liver cancer. The disease is spread primarily through contact with the blood of an infected person.
For more information on the approval process and income assisted programs, contact the Drug Plan and Extended Benefits Branch at 1-800-667-7581 or 306-787-3317 in Regina.
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