A North Rustico man says he'll have to move to Ontario if the P.E.I. government won't fund a medication that would help delay his advanced kidney cancer.
P.E.I. is one of only three provinces in Canada that doesn't cover the cost of the drug.
Basil Gallant, 73, is on his third medication since he was diagnosed with kidney cancer nine years ago. For this type of cancer, drugs are used to slow the growth of tumours.
Eventually, the drug Gallant is on will stop working for him, and he will have to switch to yet another one. That will be Afinitor, which is specifically for patients with advanced kidney cancer.
But with a price tag of $75,000 a year, he said he can't afford it without government help.
"I kind of compare this, all these drugs, as lifesavers. Nobody will throw it to you. It's there. But you can't afford it. It's not very nice. You need somebody to step up and throw the life ring," Gallant said.
If the government won't do that, he said, he'll have to move to Ontario, where Afinitor is covered. A spokesperson with the P.E.I. Health Department said a national cancer drug review committee didn't approve Afinitor for funding, that's why it won't cover it.
The Pan-Canadian Oncology Drug Review Committee didn't approve funding for the drug because it said it was too expensive to be considered cost-effective.
"Overall, the committee acknowledged the clinical benefits of Afinitor and the therapeutic need for this treatment, but was concerned with the high drug cost," the committee said in its decision.
In spite of that ruling, seven provinces have gone ahead and approved funding for the drug.
Karen Ross is with Kidney Cancer Canada, a group that's been leading a letter-writing campaign to provincial governments, including P.E.I. She wants PEI patients to have the same peace of mind patients have in other provinces.
"Why shouldn't they have a second chance at life, as other Canadians do," Ross said.
Inhibitor drugs, such as Afinitor, have increased the five-year life expectancy of kidney-cancer patients from 10 per cent to 67 per cent.