People suffering from wet macular degeneration in Alberta, Canada are about to learn if there will be coverage provided for Lucentis treatment for the eye disease. Alberta Health has confirmed that the drug Lucentis, will be going before Alberta’s expert drug review committee as early as this month. Lucentis is the newest drug being used to battle wet macular degeneration, and has shown that it can not only halt the progression of the disease, but in some cases reverse the damage.
As Alberta contemplates providing coverage for Lucentis treatment for wet macular degeneration, many people who suffer from the eye disease in Alberta must sit and wait for the decision. With plans to bring the drug Lucentis before the expert drug review panel for approval, patients suffering from wet macular degeneration weigh in on the issue.
One patient who is permanently blind in her right eye, says Lucentis saved her remaining vision, but fears that many Albertans could not afford to pay for Lucentis. “I feel it’s something that we should definitely have. People are losing their sight because they don’t have the money to do it.” she says, when talking about the Lucentis treatments for wet macular degeneration.
The Canadian Institute for the Blind (CNIB) believes that the provinces should pay for the treatments of Lucentis. In fact, the provinces of Ontario and Quebec already provide coverage for Lucentis.
The problem arises with the cost of the drug. Currently, Lucentis costs about $1,850 per treatment, and a patient suffering from macular degeneration will require multiple treatments. Because of the cost of Lucentis, the review committee will weigh the drug for cost-effectiveness and efficacy before making its final recommendation.
Lucentis may not get approved because Alberta taxpayers might not want to pay for the expensive drug Lucentis when cheaper alternatives exist. Avastin, manufactured by the same pharmaceutical company that makes Lucentis, costs about $150 per treatment and doctors have been using it for some time to successfully treat macular degeneration. The problem is that Avastin is approved to treat cancer, not macular degeneration, but it has shown to be effective in treating the eye disease.
This situation leaves the Alberta Government in an unusual position: should they approve the drug Lucentis that is scientifically proven to be an effective treatment for macular degeneration or should they approve the cheaper alternative that has not been clinically tested.
Many governments throughout the world are struggling with similar dilemmas regarding these two drugs.
Will Alberta provide funding for Lucentis and give hope to macular degeneration patients? The decision is expected shortly.