Alberta expands access to cystic fibrosis drug Trikafta for children 6 to 11

Since last September, the province has provided coverage for the drug to Albertans who are 12 and older. That's being expanded to children as young as six.

Children with CF can now live 'longer, healthier and fuller lives,' says advocate

Cystic fibrosis patient and advocate Amanda Bartels, centre, speaks at a news conference on Monday. (Government of Alberta)

Alberta is expanding access for the cystic fibrosis drug Trikafta to children between six and 11 years old. 

Since last September, the province has provided coverage for the drug to Albertans who are 12 and older. 

At a Monday news conference, Alberta Health Minister Jason Copping said access to the drug for young children with cystic fibrosis (CF) will improve their quality of life. 

"This change means younger children can now benefit from treatment from this highly effective prescription drug and achieve the same improved health outcomes that others are experiencing," said Copping. 

Health Canada approved the use of Trikafta to treat children between six and 11 on April 19. On July 6, the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health recommended the drug for listing. 

CF is a genetic disease that causes mucus to build up in the lungs, digestive tract and other parts of the body. 

Other provinces such as Ontario have also made the move to expand coverage of Trikafta for the six to 11 age group. 

'Truly life-changing' medication

Sharon Stepaniuk, an advocate for people living with CF and mother to two children with the disease, said she's grateful for the government's decision to expand access.

"This announcement today that allows children to start treatment earlier than ever before will open up a world of possibility for them," Stepaniuk said at Monday's news conference.

Alberta Health Minister Jason Copping announced Monday that access to the cystic fibrosis drug Trikafta will be extended to Albertans between six and 11 years old. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

Stepaniuk said starting the drug treatment early in life will prevent substantial, permanent damage to the lungs and allow young people with CF to live "longer, healthier and fuller lives." 

Amanda Bartels, a CF patient and advocate, said she's been using Trikafta for just over two years. 

Before Trikafta, Bartels was admitted to the hospital with lung infections about three to four times a year. She was given compassionate access to the drug in June 2020 as she was one of the sickest CF patients in the country, Bartels said at the news conference. 

"I am so grateful that I was given this life-saving medication and that I was able to help show our government how truly life-changing this medication is," she said.

Bartels was on the road to getting a double lung transplant, but plans for that surgery have been halted indefinitely since Bartels started using Trikafta. 

"I'm blessed to be turning 40 with my original lungs, healthier than I have been in years, which has brought both joy and relief to my family."