New drugs to treat cystic fibrosis, HIV, will be covered by Manitoba
The Manitoba government is adding new drugs to the provincial formulary, allowing patients to access medications for cystic fibrosis and HIV.
Premier Kelvin Goertzen and Health Minister Audrey Gordon announced the additions on Friday, saying Trikafta for cystic fibrosis and HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) will be added to the provincial drug program.
“Trikafta has helped tens of thousands of people with cystic fibrosis live their lives normally instead of having to struggle for every breath,” Gordon said.
“PrEP is an anti-retroviral drug that greatly reduces the risk of HIV infection.”
Patients will be able to access these drugs if they meet provincial eligibility criteria and are eligible for pharmacare or receive health coverage from Employment and Income Assistance.
“This is an important announcement for Manitobans,” Gordon said.
“Adding these two drugs to the provincial formulary will dramatically change the lives of Manitobans living with cystic fibrosis or who are at risk of HIV exposure.”
Trikafta is a cystic fibrosis treatment that helps people to better manage their illness. The triple combination drug is used for treating symptoms and targeting the basic defect from specific genetic mutations that cause cystic fibrosis.
Manitoba is able to provide access to this drug due to its participation in the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance.
The news of the new treatment brought on a sigh of relief for Marilyn and Phil Snarr whose five-year-old son Jack was born with the disease.
The couple has been advocating for months that Trikafta should be available through the province’s pharmacare program.
“We are very excited about this amazing news, especially for all the cystic fibrosis patients who are going to benefit from this drug," Marilyn said.
She said her son Jack doesn’t qualify for Trikafta as of yet because he’s too young to meet the criteria, but said he will eventually because his type of mutation is treatable with the drug.
“Right now it is approved for his age – 6 to 11 – in the United States, and usually the way it works is that Canada will follow suit.”
Patti Tweed, the lead Manitoba advocate for Cystic Fibrosis Canada, said Trikafta will improve the quality of life for cystic fibrosis patients, but it won’t be able to help everyone living with the disease.
“Trikafta is effective for up to 90 per cent of the over 2,000 genetic mutations that make up cystic fibrosis, so we still have a little ways to go," Tweed said.
The drug was approved by the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health back in June, and surrounding provinces like Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario were quick to adopt the drug. In Manitoba, it took a little more time.
Gordon said getting new drugs added to Manitoba’s formulary will be faster in the future.
“Manitoba has different processes than the other provinces do, and as the Premier mentioned we have streamlined that process," she said.
Phil Snarr said the announcement is a relief for his family and other Manitobans living with cystic fibrosis.
“So many of the things we were so scared about, we don’t have to worry about, at least not nearly as much as we used to before," he said.
PrEP MEDICATION TO PREVENT SPREAD OF HIV
PrEP is a medication taken daily to prevent HIV from spreading in the body and to reduce the risk of getting the virus.
To provide PrEP medical practitioners need to register. The registration forms can be found online.
Manitoba Health and Seniors Care partnered with the Manitoba HIV Program to create the ‘Manitoba HIV Program HIV Prevention Guidelines.' These guidelines include eligibility for PrEP, initial and ongoing assessment, and recommended supports for patients receiving PrEP.
The Manitoba Pharmacare Program is a drug benefit program for eligible Manitobans whose incomes are affected by the high cost of prescription drugs. Coverage is based on total family income and the amount paid for eligible drugs.