“This is my last option:” Ottawa woman with cystic fibrosis says insurance will not cover life-saving drugs

OTTAWA – A 23-year-old woman with cystic fibrosis from Ottawa says she needs life-saving medicine that costs $ 300,000 a year, but says her private insurance won’t pay for it.

“I was basically told this was my last option,” says Sara Aldrich.

Aldrich was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at a young age and led a predominantly active life.

“My brother and I played competitive football, I played for eleven years,” she said, “we were always out and doing something – some kind of sport.”

But she says that over the past three years that has changed. His condition, which affects the lungs, worsened, making everyday tasks difficult.

“When I was healthy I didn’t even think how easy it was to do, but now on the way up the stairs I usually cough, I usually end up throwing up. So my life has kinda completely gone. changed since my lung function declined. ”

Aldrich said a new treatment, called Trifakta, would change his life.

“My lung function is the lowest it has ever been, and I can’t see it going back up unless I get Trikafta.”

The drug is approved for use in Canada, but is not covered by its private insurance.

“The price should be reduced by at least 80 to 90% so that they can afford it; and, they said that the price of the drug currently exceeds the benefits of it. “

Kim Steele, director of government and community relations at Cystic Fibrosis Canada, says Aldrich is not the only one being denied,

“We are in this oddly unique situation, in which Canada’s public payers, therefore our governments, have taken steps to cover this drug faster than most private insurers, and this is simply not happening in Canada,” she says.

“Not everyone can buy public insurance; if you have private insurance, depending on where you live in Canada, your government wants to bill for it first; and, if your private insurer doesn’t cover it, it’s quite a job to try to get it through the public system.

Steele adds that Trikafta treats 98 percent of the CF community,

“This is the biggest transformation in the history of cystic fibrosis. It is a therapy that not only slows the progression of the disease in people, but it helps people get off the lung transplant list and get their lives back on track.

Aldrich is asking for an OHIP program aimed at young people to hopefully pay for the drug. But her goal is to raise awareness of her situation and help others.

“Keep fighting for everyone who has cystic fibrosis and needs this medicine – I don’t want to stop there.”

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