New Brunswick still waiting on catastrophic drug plan
N.B. and P.E.I. are only provinces without a plan
People in New Brunswick are still waiting for the promised catastrophic drug plan they were promised during Premier David Alward’s 2010 election campaign.
Some patients face annual bills in the five- to six-figure range.
Catastrophic drug coverage ensures that no one is denied access to necessary, high-cost drugs based on where they live, or their ability to pay.
Maryann Moore was diagnosed with multiple sclerorsis in 2003, and thanks to a drug called Fampyra, she's getting some of her ability back.
Opening a package, holding a glass, even tapping her foot are things that became easier for her once she began the drug.
"I was walking faster, which kind of surprised me and I thought, ‘it can’t be working that fast,’ but I kept going, and I was walking," Moore said.
She is on a disability pension and the drug costs $600 a month, but her life is improved with it.
"I have some family support, I have my Visa," she said.
The government must put the drug on its approved list before it is covered, so Moore began writing the provincial government.
If it is approved, she will only have to pay a service charge.
Because the province doesn’t have a catastrophic drug plan, the MS Society says many middle-income families will not be able to afford the $7,200 a year price tag.
During the 2010 election campaign, David Alward promised a catastrophic drug plan. P.E.I .is the only other province in Canada without one.
"At the same time we brought forward a strategy on how we will control spending of government and still be able to focus on highest priorities for New Brunswickers such as catastrophic drug coverage for families who are going through a health crisis," he said at the time.
A year and a half into his term as premier, the promise was a two-stage plan for the uninsured, initially.
"Second phase will be the building of a catastrophic program for all New Brunswickers," Alward said.
The province is still working on phase one.
The Advisory Committee on Health Benefits has completed the public consultation process, and recommendations will then be made to government on a drug plan that best serves uninsured N.B. residents, according to the Department of Health.