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Cancer drug not covered, options running out

A P.E.I. woman says she can't afford the cancer drug she has been prescribed, and P.E.I. is the only province in Canada that does not pay for the medicine.

Treatment with cancer drug Revlimid costs about $10,000 a month

Anna Peters may have to leave P.E.I. to get medicine that is covered in every other province. 1:27

A P.E.I. woman says she can't afford the cancer drug she has been prescribed, and P.E.I. is the only province in Canada that does not pay for the medicine.

Anna Peters suffers from multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow. Peters is currently staying at her hobby farm in Howe Bay, trying to make the most of her time before August, when she'll be travelling to Halifax twice a week for a new cancer drug trial.

Ann Lanstroth is lobbying the government to approve Revlimid. (CBC)

"I'm not looking forward to it, but if that's the only option I have to try it," she said.

Her doctor has prescribed the drug Revlimid for her cancer, but Peters said it isn't covered by her insurance or under Health PEI's Pharmacare formulary. She said it costs about $10,000 a month.

"It is expensive, but I don't understand why other cancer drugs get approved and not the Revlimid," she said.

Ann Langstroth, a former nurse who runs a support group for Islanders living with multiple myeloma, said there are no drugs on the P.E.I. formulary for that disease, and for some Revlimid could help.

"We are in fact the only province in Canada who doesn't cover this drug," said Langstroth.

Langstroth said the drug was approved for use in Canada in 2008. Earlier this week the Canadian Cancer Society raised concerns about how long the province takes to make approved cancer drugs available to Islanders, about twice as long as the process takes in Ontario.

Langstroth said she's preparing an official proposal to get the drug covered. Health PEI was unavailable for comment.

Peters said she might be forced to leave the Island if Revlimid is not approved soon.

For mobile device users:Is P.E.I. taking too long to approve new medicines?

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