'Best news in the whole world': B.C. announces coverage of Parkinson’s drug
Published Tuesday, February 14, 2017 10:59AM PST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 14, 2017 7:16PM PST
A Vancouver Island woman living with advanced Parkinson’s says she has new hope after the province changed its tune over the coverage of a life-altering drug.
Paddi Wood has questioned the provincial government for months on why DUODOPA is covered in several Canadian provinces, but not in British Columbia.
“I can’t believe it’s happened actually, I feel like running around the garden,” Wood said.
On Tuesday the Ministry of Health announced it will work with the Pacific Parkinson’s Research Centre to identify and prioritize patients for coverage of the costly medication.
Coverage is expected to be provided for a small number of patients who are “clinically appropriate,” the ministry noted.
Health Minister Terry Lake said strong testimonies and compelling accounts of the drug improving symptoms led the government to follow other provinces in covering the drug.
"We understand that quality of life for people with Parkinson's disease can be a significant challenge,” Lake said. “With introduction of coverage on an exceptional basis, we are offering an additional option for families facing this terrible disease."
Wood was diagnosed with the degenerative neurological condition in 2008 and is among 12 people in B.C. who have pushed to get the drug covered.
She’s tried a number of treatments and drugs over the years, none of which have slowed her symptoms
The 68-year-old said she was in shock when she heard the news because she didn’t think the government would change its decision on the treatment.
“We’ve got the treatment and that’s the best news in the whole world and when it really hits me in about two hours I will want to go out and have a drink of wine,” Wood said.
DUODOPA is a combination of levodopa and carbidopa administered directly to the small intestine through a surgically placed tube.
The treatment comes at a cost of $60,000 a year.
The Ministry of Health says it’s been in discussions with AbbVie, the manufacturer of DUODOPA, to explore ways to make the product more affordable.
It will meet with the drug manufacturer next week to get the most advanced patients started on the drug right away.
The ministry will also review the use of deep-brain stimulation surgery for severe and complex Parkinson's patients.
With files from CTV Vancouver Island's Chandler Grieve