Saint John man struggles to pay for cancer drug
Province won't cover $10,600 a month for Avastin
A Saint John man and his family are struggling to figure out how they will pay for an expensive cancer drug that could prolong his life.
John Philippe has a brain tumour known as Glioblastoma and doctors have told him that treatment with a drug called Avastin may extend his life.
But the drug will cost $10,600 a month and it is not covered by the provincial government.
New Brunswick is one of the last provinces to implement a catastrophic drug program.
Philippe's condition has worsened dramatically over the last month and he now requires a walker to get around.
When Philippe found out that Avastin could prolong his life, he also learned his Medavie Blue Cross plan would not cover the expensive drug.
"They know he needs this, but they feel it's up to the government to pay for it and not them," said Lynn Philippe, his wife.
The couple appealed to the Department of Health for financial help to pay for the drug. But the provincial government also refused.
Lynn Philippe said the family does not want to deal with a fight with the provincial government as well as the brain tumour.
"I want us to spend time together and I don't want to be fighting over a drug that he needs to stay alive," she said.
The couple decided to go ahead and put the first Avastin treatment on their credit card. Friends have stepped in to help out, but the Philippes say they have no idea how they will handle future months.
The New Brunswick government announced in 2009 that it would cover Avastin under the provincial drug program for people with metastatic colorectal cancer.