'Can't put a price on health': Woman calls on Sask. gov't to cover $200K-a-year drug
Christie Brizinski says Orkambi could be a gamechanger for her cystic fibrosis condition
A young woman from Beauval, Sask., who has cystic fibrosis is calling on the Saskatchewan government to cover an expensive but potentially "life-changing" drug.
Christie Brizinski, 20, was diagnosed when she was three months old, and while she takes enzymes with every meal to help her digest fats and proteins, her lung function began declining two years ago.
"It's just been declining quickly lately," she said.
Drug costs $200,000 a year
Six months ago, her doctor told her about a drug called Orkambi, which attacks the root cause of her condition.
"That's the only drug right now for my mutation that can actually go down to the molecular level and actually treat the cause of the genetic disease itself," she said.
"He told me that it would pretty much change my life in terms of lung function increasing, weight gain increasing, and just normal day-to-day life becoming improved."
But the drug, which Brizinski says costs $200,000 a year, or nearly $17,000 a month, isn't covered by the provincial government.
Brizinski is launching petitions to try and help change that, as well as calling on the government to meet with her and her family to discuss the issue.
"We're asking the [Saskatchewan] government and the minister of health to come to the table and to take a leadership role in Canada for people like myself."
"You can't put a price on health, on a human life," she said, adding that the United States, Ireland and Italy all cover the drug.
Gov't takes cues from drug expert committee
In a statement, the provincial government said its decisions about what drugs to cover are partly based on advice from the Canadian Drug Expert Committee, and that that committee recommended that Orkambi not be eligible for reimbursement "after careful consideration of the clinical evidence as well as the cost information."
Berzinski said it's strange that the Saskatchewan government does cover a drug called Kalydeko which treats another mutation of cystic fibrosis.
"It's over $300,000 a year," she said.