A patchwork system of coverage for cancer drugs across the country means patients are being denied equal access to life-saving treatments, says a report by the Canadian Cancer Society.
The report, released Monday, says patients in some provinces will have cancer drugs covered under comprehensive insurance plans, while those in other jurisdictions must pay some or all of the cost from their own pockets.
And with most newer cancer drugs carrying price tags that can run into thousands of dollars, the burden of paying for life-saving treatments can mean financial disaster for some Canadians, the society says.
“It is increasingly becoming the fact that your ability to get the drugs you need is dependent upon where you live and how much money you have,” said Dan Demers, director of national public issues for the Canadian Cancer Society.
“In our minds, that's not universal health care.”
The society is calling on Ottawa to take the lead in developing a catastrophic drug program, in consultation with the provinces and territories, the insurance industry and patient groups.