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Three provinces say they will start covering the cost of a new drug that experts describe as a “life-changing” treatment for cystic fibrosis.

Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan announced on Friday that they would pay to provide eligible patients with Trikafta, which costs around $ 300,000 per year at its list price, as part of their publicly funded drug programs .

The news comes a week after the Pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance, which negotiates drug prices on behalf of provinces and territories, reached an agreement with Vertex Pharmaceuticals on the costs and terms of coverage for Trikafta.

The provinces that listed the drug have not specified eligibility criteria, however, the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health has released a draft recommendation that would limit treatment to patients with lower lung function. at 90%.

The scientific director of Cystic Fibrosis Canada called Trikafta “the biggest innovation in the treatment of cystic fibrosis,” noting that research suggests the drug may be effective in 90 percent of patients.

Dr John Wallenburg says the three-drug therapy could have profound health benefits because it targets a faulty protein that causes mucus to build up that clogs the lungs and digestive system.

“It is a drug which, in its mechanism of action, is unlike anything that most people with cystic fibrosis have had access to in the past,” Wallenburg said.

“We have been treating the symptoms of the disease for decades, and we have done it very well, but it is a drug that goes in and corrects the basic defect.”

Health Canada approved Trikafta for patients aged 12 and older in June after an extended campaign to make the drug available in Canada.

Wallenburg believes public pressure has helped accelerate Trikafta’s trajectory through Canada’s complex drug pricing system.

“We believe this lays the foundation and sets a precedent for all other provinces… to follow suit as quickly as possible.”

Cystic Fibrosis Canada estimates that approximately 4,300 Canadians have the disease.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on September 24, 2021.

Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press

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