Oral cancer drug options just make sense: advocate
There's a big push to get more cancer drugs covered by some provinces, as patients struggle to pay for drugs that are covered in other parts of Canada.
Patients say oral cancer drugs have a lot of benefits, but those pills come with a big cost in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Geoff Eaton, with Young Adult Cancer Canada in St. John's, said part of the challenge to Canada's health care system is covered services aren't the same right across the country.
The traditional intravenous chemotherapy method is covered in the province by law, but the newer pill treatment is not.
"If you look at the drugs that are in the development pipeline, for many years now, the pharmaceutical industry's been trending towards the oral medications, and from a patient's perspective that's awesome," he said.
"[It means] less time in hospital, the therapies are becoming more targeted, they're more effective, there's a lot of wins from the patient perspective — except this massive barrier for a lot of people, which is obviously cost."
Eaton said that while the benefit of oral medications to the patient is fairly substantial, most simply can't afford them.
"There's a whole load of expenses that come to a patient when they get a diagnosis of cancer, and if you throw in another massive cost for these new oral therapies that are a main line treatment, that's a huge burden for any patient to carry," he said.
According to Eaton, having the option of an oral medication which would allow the patient to spend more time in the comfort of their own homes would be the obvious choice, if every patient could afford it.
A national group called CanCertainty is trying to get every province to cover the pills.
CBC News approached the Department of Health about why the province doesn't cover the pills, but didn't receive a response at publication time.
With files from Peter Cowan