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Ontario minister seconds patient-pay plan for expensive cancer drugs

The idea of permitting hospitals to effect a charge on cancer patients for powerful, intravenous medications, not sponsored by the public health-care //system, is being seriously considered by Ontario's Health Minister.

George Smitherman said "There's no final decision yet. We've done some due diligence and obviously we're closer to having a policy. And in my heart, I believe it's the right thing said in a telephone interview yesterday. I have a responsibility to consider this once I have seen the final advice and to make sure that it's the right thing at the right time for Ontario."

The patients would be allowed to pay for those cancer drugs that have the approval of Health Canada but are frightfully expensive, which may be needed to extend the life of patients suffering from incurable cancers. The proposal will permit thousands of Ontario patients to buy the IV drugs at half the price in comparison to the United States Market.

According to Carolyn Henry, group leader of the London and District Myeloma Support Group, said "Imagine delaying treatment for lack of money, having to fundraise for treatment, putting your kids' postsecondary education at risk, potentially having to sell your house because you can't keep up the mortgage payments, which you incurred to pay for treatment, because you can't work.”

Bill Evans, an oncologist and president of the Juravinski Cancer Centre in Hamilton, stating that many new cancer drugs are awfully expensive said "People are going to seek these things out and they are willing to pay for them. What are you going to do -- say no, and inconvenience people? Or try to help with the safety and continuity of their care by making them available?"


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