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Honourable Deb Matthews
Minister of Health and Long-Term Care
10th Floor, Hepburn Block
80 Grosvenor Street
Toronto, Ontario M7A 2C4
Dear Minister Matthews,
As someone touched by cancer, I am writing to you to call your attention to a serious matter – publicly-funded access to life-sustaining treatments for follicular lymphoma (FL) patients who relapse.
I recently became aware of the story of Barry Reznick, a 56-year old father of three who is bravely fighting for publicly-funded access to Rituxan. Since being diagnosed with FL in 2002, Barry and his family have given tirelessly to the cancer community, throwing numerous fundraisers and raising more than $130,000 for cancer research. Yet in his time of need, Barry is being denied public funding for this life-saving drug.
As you may know, FL patients who received a treatment called Rituxan plus chemotherapy when they were first diagnosed and who responded well to initial treatment are being denied Rituxan, following a relapse. The only available and publicly-funded treatment option for these patients is chemotherapy – an option that is not equivalent to the standard of care in the rest of the country. Conversely, other FL patients in Ontario who previously received Rituxan alone after diagnosis are eligible for publicly-funded Rituxan again if they relapse. This care gap has existed for more than five years and is costing people with follicular lymphoma their lives.
I ask that you add my voice to the others across Ontario who feel that Barry and other FL patients like him should have access to the standard of care, Rituxan. It is imperative that such treatments be made available immediately to patients whose lives may depend on it.