When 14 nations were compared for their usage of new cancer prescriptions launched within the last five years Canada came in at 13th. Could Canada's cancer patients be getting outdated treatments or being bounced from one drug to the next?
The UK report "Extent and Causes of International Variations in Drug Usage" found that France, Austria and the United States were the top ranking nations when it comes to using new cancer medications for patients. New Zealand was ranked at the lowest end of the spectrum with Canada and the UK following.
"The Canadian Cancer Society strongly believes that all Canadians must have access to cancer drug treatments without financial hardship, no matter where they live in this country," says Aaron Levo, Acting Director, National Public Issues, Canadian Cancer Society in a press release. "During cancer treatment a person needs to focus on their health. It is not a time for a patient to worry about how they are going to pay for the drugs. This is simply unacceptable."
Because of the extremely low ranking that Canada received in the UK study the Cancer Advocacy Coalition of Canada, Canadian Cancer Society and Canadian Cancer Action Network are calling on the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers of Health to urgently pursue the creation of a national catastrophic drug plan for cancer patients.
Many Canadian cancer patients are having to rely on drug coverage by private insurance leading to cancer treatments that are out of their financial reach. Dr. Kong Khoo, Vice Chair of the Cancer Advocacy Coalition of Canada (CACC) and lead author of the CACC Report Card articles on access to cancer drugs, said "the UK study confirms what we have been reporting for several years in the annual Report Card on Cancer in Canada. Our citizens do not have reasonable, timely access to the newest, most effective cancer drugs. For many, that reality means trying to pay for a treatment that is unaffordable, which creates an impossible choice: your health or financial solvency for your family."