Nova Scotia

Drug coverage would give man 'my life back'

A Musquodoboit Valley man wants the province to pay for anti-rejection medication after a transplant.

A Musquodoboit Valley man wants the province to pay for anti-rejection medication after a transplant.

Blane MacDonald is a diabetic who has trouble controlling his blood sugar levels. He and his fiancee have been able to save for a type of transplant surgery that's done in Alberta, but that plan is on hold, because Nova Scotia won't pay for drugs after the procedure.

"It honestly would mean my life back," said MacDonald.

The procedure, called an islet cell transplant, would allow him to control his sugar levels at the very least, and possibly end his six to 10 daily insulin shots.

"You really can't enjoy anything you're doing, because you're constantly trying to maintain a sugar level that won't put your immediate health at risk," said MacDonald.

His fiancee, Amber Robichaud, said it has a profound effect on her as well.

"I wake up a few times through the night, to check on him to make sure he's breathing. You know, there's the ever-present risk that he's not," she said.

Bob Inglis had the same problem with his blood sugar level until two years ago. Since then, Inglis has had two cell transplants.

"I'm alive," said Inglis. "Without this, I don't think I would be here today."

His anti-rejection drugs are covered by a private insurance.

As a substitute teacher, MacDonald doesn't have a drug plan, and he can't afford the $2,500 a month for the drugs. That's why he's hoping the province will step in.

So far, health minister Dave Wilson is saying no.

"No jurisdiction in Canada funds this procedure, or the medication after the procedure," he said.

One Nova Scotian is being reimbursed by MSI for her after-treatment drugs, but the province says that was a mistake.

now