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Province to cover Lucentis starting in 2011

Nova Scotia is no longer the only province not to cover the drug Lucentis for people losing their eyesight.

Nova Scotia is no longer the only province not to cover the drug Lucentis for people losing their eyesight.

Health Minister Maureen MacDonald told reporters yesterday that her department figured out how to pay for this expensive drug as of Jan. 1, 2011.

It will cost the province $660,000 this year to build a program and cost $3.5 million next year as it takes effect.

MacDonald explained how she found the money: “The delivery of this treatment will be in a hospital clinical setting, and this allows us to gain certain efficiencies.”

It will bypass pharmacy dispensing fees, and specialists will deliver the treatment.

“These things will help us contain the costs of this program,” she said.

Four thousand people in the province suffer from Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), and 800 people a year will be able to apply for this program.

Some of those 4,000 patients wouldn’t benefit from this drug treatment, said Alan Cruess, district chief of ophthalmology and visual sciences.

But he said Lucentis and Avastin, which will also be covered by the province next year, are extremely effective especially in new cases of wet AMD.

“It has the power to improve vision in a good number of patients and to stabilize vision in the majority of patients. It is truly a dream come true,” he said.

“I have several patients who are wonderful examples of what Lucentis is able to accomplish.”

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