Jun 292005

I found this article on the Globe and Mail website yesterday but then it vanished into the land of the paid subscription.
Thankfully, it appears here as well

Text below:

Many believe the breast cancer-fighting drug Herceptin is being delayed needlessly by the Canadian government; unless emergency relief is provided, more lives will be lost.

Herceptin had been used by patients over the past six years for metastasized breast cancer patients with an excess of HER-2, a protein caused by a genetic mutation. Up to 30 percent of breast cancer patients have these symptoms, which makes the cancer much more difficult to treat. Three different studies have shown that Herceptin can treat this specific form of breast cancer at a much earlier stage than previous therapies.

Yet many patients cannot afford the $35,000 per year minimum price of Herceptin treatments, and insurance companies will not cover the drug because the medication has not been officially approved for use.

It is estimated that 115 women each month could see their symptoms return and eventually lead to death without use of the breakthrough breast cancer medication. Activist organizations are calling for Canadian government officials to invoke an emergency disaster relief program for patients at risk but unable to afford Herceptin treatments.

Dr Joseph Ragaz, director of McGill University Health Centre’s oncology program, sent information concerning Herceptin to various media outlets in hopes that increased awareness concerning the drug will bring policy changes. He believes the restrictions are hindering his ability to treat patients.

“It’s a big frustration. As a physician, you are on a sacred mission.” he said. “And the only reason you are being blocked from that mission is for fiscal reasons.”

 Posted by at 11:46 pm

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