– The Ontario PC platform includes a commitment to fund take-home cancer treatments –
Toronto, Ontario, November 27, 2017 – The CanCertainty Coalition, the united voice of 35 Canadian cancer organizations, applauds the Ontario PC party’s inclusion of funding for take-home cancer medications in their platform, as announced at the party convention on Saturday.
Currently in Ontario the systems for patients to access take-home cancer treatments and hospital-administered cancer drugs are completely different. Major differences include the agonizing time patients spend waiting to start at-home treatment, out-of-pocket costs to the patient, and quality of care for patients treated at home. This inequity still exists because, despite calls for system reform, Ontario has not updated its provincial cancer system to include take-home cancer medications.
“People in Ontario need a cancer system that truly puts patients first, that allows patients and their families to focus on their cancer treatment, and puts the burden of funding, access and administration into the background,” says Deb Maskens, kidney cancer patient and co-founder of CanCertainty. “The decision to address the current two-tiered cancer system in Ontario will eliminate much of the financial hardship and related stress that patients in the province face.”
The Ontario PCs is the second provincial party to address the issue of inequities in the way in-hospital and at-home cancer medications are treated. In April 2017, the Ontario NDP made a commitment to improving access to take-home cancer medications in their Vision for Ontario.
Canada’s Western provinces all treat take-home cancer drugs and hospital-administered cancer drugs on an equal basis. Ontario has lagged behind other provinces (Manitoba in 2012 and Nova Scotia in 2017) in addressing this issue.
“Numerous reports, roundtables, and meetings have all called for this change in Ontario’s cancer system for over three years. Cancer patients cannot wait any longer. It’s our hope that all three parties will make cancer treatment a priority and make this commitment to Ontarians in advance of the provincial election in June,” says Maskens.
The Evolution of Cancer Treatment
Traditionally all cancer treatments were administered to patients by an IV in the hospital. Over the past 10 years, an increasing number of effective cancer treatments can be taken at home by pill or injection. Take-home cancer medications are now a fundamental part of today’s cancer treatments and should be recognized equally within our provincial health care systems. The majority of cancer patients today will require a take-home cancer drug.[i]
Patients requiring an intravenous treatment can start that medication as soon as needed and don’t face any financial or administrative burdens provided the drug is included on the provincial formulary.
However, when take-home cancer medications are prescribed, patients in Ontario who are under 65 must apply to a variety of funding assistance programs and ultimately many pay a significant deductible or co-pay from their personal savings. To qualify for assistance programs, patients and their families must submit significant amounts of personal and financial information for their entire household. Patients often face weeks of stressful delay in starting their cancer treatment until the paperwork and approvals are resolved.
About the CanCertainty Coalition
The CanCertainty Coalition is the united voice of 35 Canadian patient groups, cancer health charities, and caregiver organizations from across the country, joining together with oncologists and cancer care professionals to significantly improve the affordability and accessibility of take-home cancer treatments. For more information and to view our list of members, visit www.CanCertainty.com.
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