A small number of British Columbians suffering from Parkinson’s disease will soon be able to try the costly medication Duodopa, with fees covered by the province, as long as they have no other option of treatment.
In a statement released Tuesday, Health Minister Terry Lake said he’s been in discussion with Parkinson Society British Columbia and the Pacific Parkinson’s Research Centre about the high cost of the drug and its effectiveness.
Duodopa is a gel that is injected directly to the small intestine, pumping once every minute, which helps with absorption of other necessary medications.
Physicians at the research centre will identify suitable patients and submit requests for PharmaCare coverage under the ministry’s special authority program.
Coverage is expected to be granted for a “small number of patients who are clinically appropriate” and may benefit from Duodopa therapy. Other qualifications include that other therapies, such as deep-brain stimulation surgery, are not feasible for the patient.
Earlier this month, a group of residents in Hope launched a website, after they found out a former teacher suffering from Parkinson’s was unable to afford the $60,000-per-year therapy that isn’t currently covered through PharmaCare.
The website encourages people to write letters to their MLA, Lake and the person in charge of PharmaCare, Barbara Walman, asking them to support public funding of the therapy.
Meanwhile, Lake is in discussions with AbbVie, the manufacturer of Duodopa, to explore ways to make the product more affordable.