Gov­ern­ment in­tro­duces new eye care pro­gram, sav­ing mil­lions for pa­tients and tax­pay­ers

The McLeod River Post - - Family, Farm & Garden - Spe­cial to the Post Photo cour­tesy of Al­berta Gov­ern­ment

Min­is­ter of Health Sarah Hoff­man has an­nounced a new pi­lot project that will pro­vide more treat­ment op­tions for Al­ber­tans suf­fer­ing from vi­sion loss, and will save pa­tients ap­prox­i­mately $300 ev­ery year. The pro­gram will also save tax­pay­ers be­tween $23 –$46 mil­lion over the next three years, as pa­tients are able to choose a less ex­pen­sive treat­ment op­tion. The gov­ern­ment is launch­ing the Retina Anti-Vas­cu­lar En­dothe­lial Growth Fac­tor Pro­gram for In­traoc­u­lar Dis­ease (RAPID) in part­ner­ship with the Retina So­ci­ety of Al­berta.

“This project is an ex­cel­lent ex­am­ple of gov­ern­ment and health pro­fes­sion­als part­ner­ing in an in­no­va­tive way to pro­vide bet­ter, more con­ve­nient care to Al­ber­tans, while also sav­ing mil­lions of health dol­lars. This pro­gram is an op­por­tu­nity to ex­pand treat­ment op­tions while sav­ing pa­tients money and free­ing up tax dol­lars at the same time.”

Sarah Hoff­man, Min­is­ter of Health

“The mem­bers of the Retina So­ci­ety of Al­berta wish to con­grat­u­late Al­berta Health and the Gov­ern­ment of Al­berta in mak­ing the RAPID pro­gram a re­al­ity. This new pro­gram for the treat­ment of blind­ing reti­nal dis­eases will ex­pand ac­cess to all Al­ber­tans while al­low­ing ac­cess to new med­i­ca­tions when they be­come avail­able. We be­lieve that this col­lab­o­ra­tive model be­tween physi­cians and gov­ern­ment will serve to max­i­mize pa­tient care. This is very good news for pa­tients with reti­nal dis­ease and also for the tax­payer.”

Dr. Paul Sav­age, Pres­i­dent, Retina So­ci­ety of Al­berta

Ef­fec­tive Oc­to­ber 1, Al­ber­tans will be able to choose treat­ment with either Lu­cen­tis or Avastin, both of which treat age-re­lated mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion, di­a­betic mac­u­lar edema, reti­nal vein oc­clu­sion and other reti­nal con­di­tions.

Un­der the pro­gram, the Al­berta gov­ern­ment will cover the cost of Avastin to pre­vent vi­sion loss for the first time. There will be no co-pay­ment for pa­tients un­der the pro­gram, which will save se­niors $25 per in­jec­tion, or $300 per year for most pa­tients. Th­ese pa­tients will also be able to re­ceive treat­ment di­rectly from their doc­tors, sim­pli­fy­ing their ac­cess to treat­ments. An es­ti­mated 7,000 Al­ber­tans will be el­i­gi­ble to par­tic­i­pate in the pi­lot project, based on ad­vice from their physi­cians.

As part of the project, the Retina So­ci­ety of Al­berta will lead a mon­i­tor­ing pro­gram, which will in­clude data col­lec­tion on the ef­fec­tive­ness of the treat­ment.

Avastin is be­ing used across North Amer­ica as a lower cost drug for treat­ing reti­nal con­di­tions. The cost of pro­vid­ing Avastin is $13 to $50 per treat­ment, while the cost of Lu­cen­tis is $1,575 per treat­ment. As more Al­ber­tans choose Avastin, this is ex­pected to save gov­ern­ment be­tween $23 mil­lion and $46 mil­lion over the next three years. Physi­cians have treated eye con­di­tions with Avastin for many years for th­ese off-la­bel uses and good clin­i­cal ev­i­dence sup­ports this prac­tice. Six other prov­inces and ter­ri­to­ries cover the cost of Avastin for this pur­pose.

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