Macular Degeneration Treatment: Saskatchewan, Alberta and PEI

With the Common Drug Review committee in Canada recommending that the drug Lucentis be covered by provincial governments as a treatment for the wet macular degeneration, many provinces have yet to provide funding for this eye disease treatment.  Ontario and Quebec stand as the only two Canadian provinces that currently provide Lucentis as a treatment for wet macular degeneration.  All provincial government health departments were contacted and asked whether they would be providing coverage for Lucentis and asked which macular degeneration treatment they did provide funding.   The questions surrounding macular degeneration treatments has drawn much attention across all Canadian provinces.

The following questions were asked:

Given that the Common Drug Review Committee has recommended provincial health care systems provide coverage for the drug Lucentis as a treatment of macular degeneration, does your province provide coverage?
If coverage for Lucentis is not provided, what treatment options do you pay for and provide for patients suffering from Macular Degeneration?

The only responses received regarding Lucentis and macular degeneration treatments were British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island.

British Columbia replied advising me that my request was being forwarded to the Medical Services Plan (MSP) of the Ministry of Health.  This was an automated request and to date, no other response has been received from British Columbia.  The status of treatments for macular degeneration available for patients in British Columbia is still unknown.

Alberta Health and Wellness is currently reviewing the CDR listing and its recommendation regarding Lucentis.  Coverage is provided for Vertepofin (Visudyne) for treatment of age-related macular degeneration through our Province Wide Services Program.

Saskatchewan provided the most detailed response.

Lucentis is currently under review through the Saskatchewan drug review process.
Once the provincial drug review committees’ review is complete and their recommendation receives final approval, prescribers and pharmacists will be notified of the decision.
The review committees may recommend a product for full Formulary listing, Exception Drug Status listing where patients must meet specific medical criteria, or they may not recommend a product for listing.
It will likely take several months before a final decision is communicated to stakeholders.
Drugs Covered under the Saskatchewan Formulary to treat age related macular degeneration is Visudyne.  This is currently the only drug for which coverage is available in Saskatchewan for the treatment of certain forms of age-related macular degeneration.

The coverage of Lucentis by the Prince Edward Island drug programs is being reviewed, based on the CEDAC recommendations.  Currently, the PEI drug programs do not provide coverage for any other medication for the treatment of macular degeneration. However, some limited income-based coverage of Visudyne is provided to low income seniors.

Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland have yet to reply to the questions asked regarding Lucentis for age-related macular degeneration.

Ontario and Quebec provide coverage for Lucentis under their provincial health care systems.