Island Crohn's advocates applaud adding high-cost drug to provincial formulary

Crohn's and Colitis Canada is applauding the P.E.I. government for adding the drug Remicade to its formulary, and allowing doctors and patients to choose it over lower cost alternatives.

The drug was added to the province's formulary as of Feb. 15

The cost of the drug varies by individual, Mina Mawani says, as it depends on a person's body weight, illness, and dosage. (CBC)

Crohn's and Colitis Canada is applauding the P.E.I. government for adding the drug Remicade to its formulary, and allowing doctors and patients to choose it over lower cost alternatives.

The high-cost drug was added to the province's formulary as of Feb. 15. It is a biologic that helps get inflammatory bowel disease under control and improve the quality of life of patients, says Mina Mawani, the president and CEO of the national charity.

Mawani said other provinces have listed new bio-similar drugs that can be 45 to 50 per cent cheaper, but might not work as well for all patients. 

It can takes years for patients to achieve a level of stability when they take a medication, she said, and patients are worried that they'd be forced to switch to a lower cost drug.

"The last thing they want is to be told they should switch to another medication because it's a lower cost, but not 100 per cent sure that it'll consider their stability," she said.

Protecting patients

​The cost of the drug varies by individual, as it depends on a person's body weight, illness, and dosage.

The federal Patented Medicine Price Review Board estimates the average yearly cost of Remicade is around $27,000.

"We're really happy that this decision protects patients … this is really allowing doctors and patients to have a choice and decide what works best for the patient," she said.

"This is really important for patients and doctors to have this choice."

More news from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Laura Chapin