Lucentis treatment expands for diabetic blindness

A Nova Scotia woman with diabetes is celebrating after the province announced it will expand its coverage of Lucentis and Avastin treatments next week.

Blindness treatments will soon be available through Pharmacare program

A Nova Scotia woman with diabetes is celebrating after the province said it will start to cover the cost of a drug to save her eyes starting on Tuesday.

Lucentis and Avastin treatments will soon be available through Pharmacare for people living with diabetic macular edema and retinal vein occlusion. Previously, Lucentis was only available for people losing their eyesight due to age.

The province told CBC News in September it would expand the coverage, but there was no deadline. On Friday the Health Department set a date of Nov. 12.

Donna Larocque has been a diabetic patient for 18 years and uses a magnifying glass to read. In June, she found out that her vision loss could be cured, for a price.

She has partial coverage for the drug through her employer, but was struggling to cover the $400 monthly cost of injections.

Larocque said the announcement means a lot to her family.

“This is the greatest gift. Wow,” she said.

“It’s a very big expense and this will just be a great blessing for so many people. Just, wow.”

The province anticipates about 700 people will use the new program and will cost close to $1 million.

At first, it will only be available in the Capital Health and Cape Breton district health authorities. But the province says it's working to expand treatments to other sites across Nova Scotia

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