November 21, 2017 6:00 pm
Updated: November 22, 2017 11:15 am

B.C. government approves coverage of expensive drug for student with rare disease

UBC student Shantee Anaquod, who is suffering from a rare auto-immune disease, has now been approved for an expensive drug treatment. John Hua has an exclusive interview.


A UBC student fighting a rare auto-immune disease will now get the expensive treatment she needs.

The mother of Shantee Anaquod, who is suffering from atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS), told Global News the treatment will be available in a few hours, although her daughter is not likely to get it until Wednesday.

READ MORE: It costs $750K per year to treat her rare disease, and B.C. doesn’t cover the cost

The medicine, Soliris, costs approximately $750,000 a year and can help a patient living with aHUS, but the drug was not covered by the province’s healthcare system.

Coverage of the drug was brought to light when the 23-year-old’s battle to seek coverage became public.

WATCH: UBC student makes desperate plea to B.C. government to help save her life

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On Monday, health minister Adrian Dix said Soliris would now be covered on a case-by-case basis. He said a new committee of medical specialists would look at individual cases.

Coalition applauds government’s decision

The BC Pharmacare Coalition, which advocates for better coverage of prescription medication, applauded the Health Ministry’s decision to cover the drug.

READ MORE: B.C. government approves coverage of expensive drug Soliris on case-by-case basis

Executive Director Ganive Bhinder said the coalition is “very pleased as an organization and aHUS Canada who was representing this patient. We know with healthcare there are a lot of cost restraints.

“I can acknowledge that definitely, this was a tough decision, we know there’s a certain budget for coverage of medication.”

LISTEN: Simi Sara speaks to BC Pharmacare Coalition about Soliris

Bhinder said she understands the government is limited by budgets but says the decision a first step for future conversations.

WATCH: Second case of aHUS found in BC in a six-week-old baby

“We also know there are about 40 medications that aren’t listed on the B.C. public drug formulary, that’s compared to other Canadian jurisdictions,” said Bhinder.

She said there are times when having coverage conversations can be difficult, but adds progress is being made.

READ MORE: Orphan Drugs: The high cost of rare diseases

~With files from John Hua, Jeremy Lye, Jesse Ferreras and Jon Azpiri

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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