About 80,000 British Columbians and 250,000 Canadians have
Hep C, which can cause liver failure or cancer
A new drug touted as a miracle cure for Hepatitis C is
available in B.C., but the costly treatment isn’t covered by PharmaCare.
“There’s so many people suffering from Hep C. I’m hoping the
government will approve it and speed up the approval process,” said Josephreen
Luk, whose 60-year-old mother-in-law contracted the virus in 1983 from a
tainted blood transfusion. She was diagnosed with liver cirrhosis in June, and
is a “sitting duck” for liver cancer, according to an assessment by her doctor.
Dr. Peter Kwan believes How Ching Chan will have little
success with current regimens and prescribed a 24-week course of Sovaldi as her
best hope. The $100,000 cost will have to be shouldered by Chan’s private
insurance company or, if the claim isn’t approved, by Chan’s family
remortgaging their home.
Patients have waited decades for such a ‘finite cure,’ but most can’t pay for it.
Hepatitis C patients in B.C. are waiting to hear
whether the province will cover new drugs doctors say represent
society’s first real chance to wipe out the disease, but which are
impossible for most people to afford.
Dr. Mel Krajden, a hepatologist with the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, said the new treatments are a public health “miracle.”