In recognition of World Cancer Day, the Lung Health Foundation is calling on all Canadian governments to take demonstrative steps to improve access to breakthrough cancer treatments.
The Conference Board of Canada’s Tomorrow Can’t Wait report addresses the lengthy delays between Health Canada’s approval of cancer treatments and the reimbursement at the provincial/territorial levels. In a list of 20 OECD countries, Canada ranks 18th in an analysis of the time needed to complete the price negotiation process and to list the treatments on provincial plans. For lung cancer patients, these delays in accessing treatments can mean the critical difference between life and death.
Additionally, the report notes the pronounced inconsistencies between and within Canadian jurisdictions, resulting in significant gaps in patient access to treatments; patients in certain provinces are afforded access and funding for drugs that are unavailable to patients residing in another province or territory.
The report details, “the gap in patient access to breakthrough cancer therapies in Canada may be as small as 5 to 10 per cent for some types of cancers. For others, up to 60 per cent of patients may be eligible for these therapies but do not receive them. For these patients, tomorrow can’t wait.” (pg.8).
Whether a Canadian lung cancer patient can access diagnostic testing, as well as certain breakthrough treatment options, is dependent on postal code.
“It is essential that all Canadians living with lung cancer have affordable and equitable access to innovative treatment options irrespective of factors like geography and socioeconomic status,” says Peter Glazier, Executive Vice President of the Lung Health Foundation.
The inequities in access are alarming and unacceptable for a country that prides itself on its universal health care system. The report calls on the Canadian government to create a national strategy that enables and funds access to diagnostic services, a priority area the Lung Health Foundation has been fiercely advocating for.
Lung Health Foundation continues to focus on building a cohesive and inclusive national approach to filling the gaps in lung cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment and improving disparities in lung cancer outcomes. The initiative is urgently needed and we remain strongly committed to bringing these issues to the forefront of the Canadian government’s agenda.
The full report is available here www.conferenceboard.ca/Tomorrow-Cant-Wait