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"Ill man fears for health when free treatment ends"

Vancouver Sun

Source: Vancouver Sun

Published: 27 Mar 2022

Category: Access Stories

Rating: (2 stars)

what they said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

Richmond resident Eddie Lai - one of about 350 British Columbians with chronic hepatitis B who now receive a new $ 8,000- a- year drug for free - is worried about what will happen to his health if Pharmacare doesn't pick up the tab.
For the past 18 months he has been getting free daily doses of adefovir dipivoxil, an anti- viral drug sold as Hepsera. The drug has never been covered by Pharmacare.
But those free drug treatments will end this summer because the manufacturer ended its drug study and informed physicians at the end of January that as of June 30, it will no longer provide the drug for free....

how did it rate? (more information)

Criteria Rating
Total Score 2 of 6
Access to Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Evidence Satisfactory (?)
Benefits of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Harms of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Cost of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Balance of societal versus individual perspectives Not Satisfactory (?)

what we said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

This story is typical of many that focus on a single patient's "need" for a drug without adequately exploring the clinical evidence for and against the drug.

Because this is an 'Access' story, it is disappointing that the journalist didn't probe, in any depth, the reasons behind the Canadian Expert Drug Advisory Committee 's reason for non-coverage of the drug. Those reasons can be found here:

One thing to keep in mind is the accuracy of claims of morbidity and mortality of the illness itself and there was no satisfactory discussion of the benefits of treatment for those patients for whom the drug is indicated. Also there is a large question of whether serum levels of virus accurately indicate a therapeutic effect and we often don't even measure residual serum viral load for all viral diseases, even serious ones. The key thing you are looking at with Hepatitis B is liver failure and it is unclear to what extent the $8,000 spent per year would prevent such outcome.

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