Patients fighting for eye drug
The Canadian Council for the Blind and sufferers from wet macular degeneration are lobbying the P.E.I. government to pay for a drug that will keep them from going blind.
In the provincial budget last week Finance Minister Wes Sheridan promised $1.3 million for adding drugs to the formulary, those drugs for which the province will pay for the treatment. Islanders with macular degeneration are hoping to get some of that new money.
Erma Ellis, who is 70 years old and lives in Tyne Valley, is one of those sufferers. The disease struck suddenly about a year ago.
"I just got up one morning and felt that I wanted to keep cleaning my left lens of my glasses," said Ellis.
"It's like a film over your eye. And the centre line on the road would be a zigzag. The doorframe and the window frame, anywhere I'd look where there was a straight line, it would be like a zigzag. Yes, it was quite an experience."
It left Ellis unable to drive or read, but the drug Lucentis, which is injected into her eyes, has helped her to see again. Each injection costs about $2,000 and she's had to take dozens of them.
Fortunately, her insurance covers most of it, but the Canadian Council for the Blind says many people can't afford it, and so they go blind.
"The majority of people cannot afford the amount that it's going to cost to prevent them from losing their vision," said Louise Gillis, a vice president with the council.
"By providing this money at this time, they are not burdened with the long term care that could follow if the injections are not given."
The Department of Health says Lucentis is on the list of drugs being considered.
Ellis has sent letters to the premier, hoping to help others with the disease regain their sight.