The Cameron Institute
D. Wayne Taylor, Ph.D., F.CIM
There are more cancer survivors in the country than ever before; 62% of new cancer patients are expected to survive for 5 years or more. Many are living much longer and with a higher quality of life.
About half of this improved survival has been attributed to new cancer drugs.105 Oral cancer drugs have been a major game-changer in this regard allowing cancer patients to live longer in their communities without the stressful ordeal of IV chemotherapy.
Take-at-home, oral cancer medicines are safe, efficacious, clinically effective, and less expensive to administer than IV chemotherapy. For the patient there is less stress, less inconvenience, lower risk of hospital-acquired infection and complications.
It is quite within the realm of probability that a $28-$58 million investment today by the Government of Ontario in safe, cost-effective oral cancer and support medicines for home use will lead to, at least, if not more than, a 17% reduction in chemotherapy unit costs, yielding timely quality, patient-focused, and value-for-money care all around. The same holds true, proportionally, for the Atlantic Provinces.
Overall, the budgetary increase in oral cancer drugs for Ontario could range from $28 million (first dollar) to $58 million (last dollar) to $94 million (annualized) – averaging $60 million. As a percentage of the total drug budget for the Province this ranges from 0.6% to 1.2% to 2.1% – averaging 1.3%.
Universal funding of oral cancer drugs will save the healthcare system money overall, provide better, more meaningful date for clinical, outcomes and systems researchers, better quality of life for cancer patients, their families and compassionate caregivers, better purchaser negotiating positions for the procurement of novel prescription pharmaceuticals, and, above all, quicker access to life-saving therapy with better outcomes.
Wait times for oral cancer drugs can be eliminated. Universal funding of oral cancer drugs is the right thing to do. Life is no less precious in Ontario and Atlantic Canada than elsewhere in this country. Cancer patients, their families and compassionate caregivers should not be systematically discriminated against simply because of their place of residence, their age, their gender or their income level.
The financial, emotional and physical costs of dealing with cancer are significant enough without adding to them the costs of a preferred and often indicated treatment modality. There should be one funding mechanism for all cancer patients for all cancer drugs.
copyright The Cameron Institute.