Canada: Ontario urged to provide better access to breakthrough hepatitis C drugs

People infected with potentially fatal hepatitis C from tainted blood are pushing Ontario to make them whole by paying for expensive breakthrough drugs considered a virtual cure for the liver disease.

Ontario’s health ministry says 341 Ontarians with stage-two liver disease or worse get Sovaldi or Harvoni pills funded by taxpayers — $60,000 for a 12-week course — under an exceptional access program.

The medications are light-years ahead of previous pharmaceuticals that had troubling side effects and did not work nearly as well.

Doctors say the triage system, in which a FibroScan (a non-invasive liver test) must meet or exceed a specific level of liver damage, can miss patients with complications that would otherwise make them eligible for taxpayer coverage.


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