September 14, 2012
Woman may die without live-saving drugsOHIP doesn’t cover expensive pill
By Kevin Connor, QMI Agency
TORONTO — Carol Bacchus is afraid of dying from her rare blood disease because she can’t afford to pay $4,000 a month for a drug that isn’t covered by Ontario Health Insurance (OHIP).
“My platelet white cells are eating my red. I need a drug called Revolade but I can’t afford it,” Bacchus said. “My doctor has applied to OHIP to get the pill covered for me but I have had no answer from the government. I hope not to die. I don’t know what is going to happen to me.”
A drug company gave Bacchus a month’s supply of the pills but those are now gone.
The pills helped with her internal bleeding and controlled the black spots the blood disease causes on her skin.
The 66-year-old hairdresser has had to cut back on her hours at work because she gets too tired and said she can’t get health insurance because she had a brain tumour in 1984.
“I have a lot of things going on in my life. This pill is the only thing that can help me. I have had to have three blood transfusions and they aren’t good for you,” she said.
Her condition can be life-threatening, Bacchus’s doctor Hanna Zuckerman said.
“Carol hasn’t responded to traditional treatments so she needs these pills very bad. Her platelet level has been down to four and the typical range is 150 to 400. It is high risk,” Zuckerman said.
There is no time limit for an application for OHIP to review giving access to a drug not already covered, health ministry spokeswoman Tori Gass said.
“To apply through exceptional access program, the patient’s physician must submit a request documenting complete and relevant medical information to the ministry, providing the clinical rationale for requesting the unlisted drug and reasons why covered benefits are not suitable,” Gass said.
“All requests are reviewed according to the guidelines and criteria established by the Committee to Evaluate Drugs and include a thorough assessment of the patient’s specific case and clinical circumstances, as provided by the physician, as well as the scientific evidence available.”