Blizzard: Expensive medications are the price of life for some in Ontario

Benjamin Sheppard, 8, has cerebral palsy and needs an operation that isn't available in Ontario.

Benjamin Sheppard, 8, has cerebral palsy and needs an operation that isn't available in Ontario.

Christina Blizzard, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:48 PM ET

It’s such a very small container — with a big price tag.

The cost? $10,000.

Its value: priceless for cancer victim Rob Schywalsky.

When he returns from a drug trial treatment in the U.S, with a small container of the drug, Ibrutinib, he’s carrying his best chance at life with him.

“I’m literally carrying $10,000 in my pocket when I am flying back and forth to Columbus, Ohio,” he told me in an interview in his modest East York home last week.

Diagnosed 10 years ago with chronic lymphocytic leukemia in a routine medical examination for mortgage insurance, Schywalsky has run the gamut of chemotherapies in this province. A genetic abnormality in his cancer means it doesn’t respond to chemotherapy.

His best chance at life is a Ibrutinib drug trial in the U.S.. He travels there six weeks in a row and stays two nights.

The 92 pills he brings home are his hope and his lifeline.

The only costs that are covered are for drugs and tests.


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