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‘Huge miracle’: Saskatchewan to expand cystic fibrosis medication in August

Trikafta is designed to help those with cystic fibrosis. Aisha Champness/ Cystic Fibrosis Canada

Starting Aug. 1, coverage for cystic fibrosis (CF) medication Trikafta will be available for CF patients who meet the medical criteria aged six and older in Saskatchewan.

Health Minister Paul Merriman said the government is “pleased” to expand coverage for the medication.

Read more: Ontario government expands access to cystic fibrosis medication

“We know that Trikafta has been shown to improve the quality of life for patients, and this expanded coverage will help children with CF and their families for years to come,” Merriman said in a press release.

Trikafta works by targeting specific genetic mutations that cause CF. The mutation impacts about 90 per cent of CF patients.

The medication was approved to treat children ages six to 11 in April by Health Canada.

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Saskatchewan’s coverage for CF patients ages 12 and up went into effect on Oct. 1, 2021.

Click to play video: 'Health Matters: New ‘miracle’ drug Trikafta approved for cystic fibrosis in Canada' Health Matters: New ‘miracle’ drug Trikafta approved for cystic fibrosis in Canada
Health Matters: New ‘miracle’ drug Trikafta approved for cystic fibrosis in Canada – Jun 21, 2021

One Saskatoon family, which has two sons with cystic fibrosis, is celebrating the news as “a huge miracle.”

“There’s no other way to say it, really. This drug works at the cellular level to make changes to their system and in their lives,” Shaun Nechvatal told Global News.

“They’re not going to be so frequently run down or impacted by little colds or flus. Their airways are going to be clearer. It corrects the genetic defect at the cellular level,” Nechvatal added.

Nechvatal’s 13-year-old son takes Trikafta now and Nechtavel said the changes have been “pretty significant.”

His other son is eight days away from turning six, meaning he too will soon be eligible for the medication.

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“We’ve been anxiously anticipating this next age because we knew in the (United) States that that age group was already approved and covered and had access, and that’s been the biggest challenge here in Canada,” Nechvatal said.

Kelly Grover, president and CEO of Cystic Fibrosis Canada, said expanding coverage of the drug “will change the trajectory of the disease and the future for many children in Saskatchewan” who have CF.

“Saskatchewan was one of the first provinces to fund the drug for those 12 years of age and older last year, and today has continued to recognize Trikafta’s extraordinary, transformative value, by expanding coverage of Trikafta to include children ages six to 11 years old,” Grover said.

“We celebrate this news alongside our CF community in Saskatchewan, which has worked tirelessly for this day.”

Trikafta costs about $300,000 per patient a year.

Read more: Saskatchewan will cover cost of ‘miracle’ cystic fibrosis drug Trikafta

The government is encouraging CF patients or parents and guardians of children with CF who think Trikafta therapy may help them to speak to their doctor.

According to the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Registry, there are more than 110 CF patients in Saskatchewan.

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