In recognition of the challenges faced by British Columbians with Parkinson’s disease, the Ministry of Health will be working with the Pacific Parkinson’s Research Centre to identify and prioritize patients for coverage of the medication Duodopa.
“We have been in discussion with the Parkinson Society British Columbia and the Pacific Parkinson's Research Centre about this treatment, and they have shared strong testimonials and compelling accounts of the drug improving symptoms and quality of life for some patients,” said Health Minister Terry Lake.
Physicians at the centre, which is part of the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health at the University of British Columbia, will identify suitable patients and submit requests for PharmaCare coverage under the ministry’s Special Authority program. Coverage is expected to be provided to a small number of patients who are clinically appropriate and may benefit from the treatment, and for whom other options like deep-brain stimulation surgery are not feasible.
“Through a rigorous drug review process, our goal under the PharmaCare program is to find the best treatment options while still maintaining value for dollar for British Columbians,” said Lake. “We understand that quality of life for people with Parkinson’s disease can be a significant challenge. With introduction of coverage on an exceptional basis, we are offering an additional option for families facing this terrible disease.”
Duodopa is a gel-form combination of two medications, levodopa and carbidopa, administered directly to the small intestine through a surgically placed tube. Pharmacare also already covers the oral form of levodopa/carbidopa.
Due to the very high cost of this drug, the Ministry of Health has been in discussions with AbbVie, the manufacturer of Duodopa, to explore ways to make the product more affordable.
The ministry will also be reviewing the use of deep-brain stimulation surgery for severe and complex Parkinson’s patients, compared to Duodopa.
B.C.’s PharmaCare is one of the most comprehensive drug programs in Canada, and covers approximately 12 drugs proven to be effective for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.
For more information about B.C.’s PharmaCare program: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/health-drug-coverage/pharmacare-for-bc-residents