B.C. government to fund expensive treatments for hearts failure and liver disease

Health Minister Adrian Dix has announced plans to fund expensive drugs for three diseases. B.C. Government

The B.C. government has approved the coverage of expensive drugs that will help British Columbians living with heart failure, liver disease or pulmonary arterial hypertension. Health Minister Adrian Dix says the drugs will benefit approximately 950 British Columbians and the estimated overall cost to add these drugs is approximately $21.7 million over the next three years.

“The drugs will create very significant differences for people in their lives,” Dix said. “These are significant challenges facing people.”

Lancora, Ocaliva and Uptravi are the three drugs now added to the PharmaCare Special Authority program. According to the province, patients requiring limited coverage drugs typically do not respond to first-line treatment or more affordable options.

Not all patients will be eligible for these drugs, which can cost up to $43,000 per person. Requests are then reviewed to determine if the limited coverage drug is the best option for the patient.

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The province was able to move forward with funding the drugs after they were approved by the national Common Drug Review. The review evaluates a drug based on its therapeutic value and cost effectiveness, and makes recommendations to provincial drug plans.

“What this shows is the approach we have taken, which is an evidence-based approach,” Dix said. “Obviously when the results are positive people are upset from time to time. These drugs were approved by the common drug review. We negotiated through with other provinces a better deal for the drug financially.”

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One of the groups involved, the Pulmonary Hypertension Association of Canada, is applauding the province’s decision to provide coverage for these drugs.

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“We celebrate British Columbia’s decision to make Uptravi accessible through public funding,” the association’s executive director Jamie Myrah said.

“We have always believed that PAH patients should have equitable and timely access to optimal treatment options in order to manage their disease. We are thrilled that this is now the case for those living in British Columbia in need of Uptravi.”

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