Leo Glavine says cancer care cost discrepancy must be addressed

Nova Scotia's health minister says his government must address the discrepancy in cancer care in the province.

Glavine says provinces should work together with the federal government to control drug costs

Health Minister Leo Glavine says health department officials are analyzing figures to see if it's cheaper to pay for oral treatments and keep people out of hospital. (CBC)

Nova Scotia's health minister says his government must address the discrepancy in cancer care in the province.

CanCertainty —a coalition of 35 cancer organizations — is trying to get all cancer drugs covered for patients who need the life-saving medication, whether the patient takes the medication in hospital or at home in pill form.

In Nova Scotia, the government pays for chemotherapy drugs that are administered intravenously in hospital, but not oral care at home.

Glavine says getting a cancer diagnosis is devastating enough for individuals and families, but then having to figure out how to pay for oral medications is another blow.

“I can’t even imagine a person waiting two, two and a half weeks to start a course of oral cancer treatment because they don’t know how that full payment process will come to be,” he said.

Glavine says there are no provisions in the health act to allow the province to pay for cancer treatments in pill form.

He says health department officials are analyzing figures to see if it's cheaper to pay for oral treatments and keep people out of hospital.

“We’re looking at that fine point now where we can be more assistive than we have been in the past,” he said.

Glavine also says the provinces should work together, with the federal government, to control drug costs.

"We have to band together as provinces, with the federal government and perhaps even with other countries. We have to get this variance of the cost of making a cancer treatment — and many other pharmaceuticals — to what it costs in the pharmacy or in our hospitals,” he said.