New Democrats: Take-home cancer drugs will be covered under OHIP

Take-home cancer drugs will be covered under OHIP if the New Democrats win the June 7 election, party leader Andrea Horwath said Monday, a promise that will cost the provincial treasury an estimated $42 million a year.

Sitting with two women who initially struggled over the cost of oral medications with fewer side effects than hospital-based chemotherapy, Horwath said her plan would be open only to Ontarians who don’t enjoy coverage through their employers.

“We believe this is the best way forward,” she told reporters at Gilda’s Club, a downtown Toronto cancer support agency named after late actress Gilda Radner. “No more having to take the second-best solution.”

Ontario’s health ministry covers the cost of intravenous cancer drugs administered in hospital but does not fund take-home treatments, and patient groups have long been pushing Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government for financial help on this front.

Sharon Dennis of Niagara Falls, diagnosed with leukemia in 2001, said she initially faced a $5,100-a-month bill for her medication Bosulif before she could find an insurance company that would provide coverage and a pharmacy that could provide her medication by billing the insurance company directly.

“I didn’t have $5,100 a month to put out,” Dennis said in an interview, noting it took three months to sort out the arrangements. “It was a lot of stress.”

She remains on the medication because her leukemia has not gone into remission.

Another woman, Dani Taylor, who works at Gilda’s Club, said her family was looking at a substantial bill for colorectal cancer medication Xeloda before coverage was found under the province’s Trillium special access drug plan.

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