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Expanded ALS drug coverage to support British Columbians

Expanded ALS drug coverage to support British Columbians

August 14, 2020 at 9:11 am  BC, News, Politics

As of Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020, the Ministry of Health will provide coverage of edaravone, or Radicava, for patients living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, commonly called Lou Gehrig’s disease) upon conclusion of negotiations with its manufacturer.

In British Columbia, approximately 480 people have been diagnosed with ALS. ALS is a fatal neurodegenerative disease where patients typically become unable to move, speak, swallow and breathe as the condition progresses. In one clinical trial, edaravone has helped slow the worsening of this disease in a select ALS patient subpopulation.

Edaravone has been under pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance (pCPA) negotiation since September 2019. The negotiations between the manufacturer, Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation, and the pCPA meet B.C.’s cost-related mandate.

“The offer from Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation meets British Columbia’s criteria, which is great news for patients suffering from this deadly disease,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “B.C. will continue to support ALS patients through its expansion of coverage of life-changing drugs and research funding to improve the lives of British Columbians.”

It is expected that between 66 to 183 patients will benefit from the coverage in the first year. The list price of edaravone is around $120,000 per patient, per year.

To further support patients living with ALS throughout the province, the ALS Society of British Columbia has raised $1 million and the B.C. government has provided $1 million to match that effort.

“The work of the ALS Society of BC helps provide care to patients, supports clinical trials and research,” Dix said. “This organization has done extraordinary things to enable patients to participate in their care, prolong survival, and improve well-being, and we are happy to support them in that great work.”

The combined $2 million will be used over the next five years to develop an ALS centre of excellence in Vancouver that will not only serve patients in the Vancouver area, but also provincewide through mobile clinics.

This investment will:

  • advance patient care for ALS in British Columbia;
  • further improve patient outcomes; and
  • help attract dedicated physicians and neurologists that are critically needed over the coming years.

Addressing the costs of prescription drugs is a shared priority between government and the BC Green Party caucus, and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.

Learn More:

For more information on drug coverage in B.C., visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/health-drug-coverage/pharmacare-for-bc-residents/what-we-cover/drug-coverage

A backgrounder follows.

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