Under a new pilot project, retinal specialists can use either of two different treatment options. However, Health Canada has not approved the second drug for treatment of retinal disease.
“We question whether the government has consulted with anyone other than retinal specialists in offering these treatment options,” said Dr. Richard Starke, the MLA for Vermilion-Lloydminster and PC Critic for Health. “Stakeholders such as the CNIB, Health Canada and the pharmaceutical industry are experts that should have been asked for their input before the government decided to promote an off-label drug for treatment of retinal conditions.”
“We have numerous questions about how the government arrived at this decision. Lucentis is admittedly a more expensive treatment option, but one that is approved by Health Canada, while Avastin is significantly cheaper, but not approved for treatment of retinal disease,” said Starke. “Will Albertans actually see the types of cost savings to vision care that the Minister is talking about? What oversight committees are in place to ensure the pilot project is scientifically valid and objective?
“Although patient choice and saving taxpayers money are important considerations, there are many questions that remain to be answered. We ask the Minister to provide more clarity for the benefit of patients and families alike,” Starke concluded.