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Cancer Patients In Ontario Denied Drug Coverage

I was glad to to hear from Wendy from … like my friend, she is battling stage IV colon cancer.  Unlike my friend, she lives in Ontario and has no assistance to pay for her chemotherapy.  In a jaw dropping video from a cancer press conference in Ontario, Wendy and 2 other colon cancer patients testify about being denied coverage for standard of care colon cancer therapy.  Wendy says that Ontario has valued her life at less than $18 thousand dollars.

In a recent interview with Senator Mike Kirby, I learned that one of the major problems facing the Canadian healthcare system is the cost of expensive new drugs.   The universal system was designed to have patients pay out of pocket for their medicines and have the government cover almost everything else.  When this health insurance strategy was created, drugs were very inexpensive.  However, with all of the technological advances in medicine – diseases like HIV/AIDS and cancer have become chronic, manageable illnesses with expensive treatment price tags.  And now, the lack of drug coverage is shifting unmanageable costs directly to the patient.  Sadly, Wendy is one of many victims of lack of drug coverage in Canada.

All this to say that the grass is not really greener in Canada – especially for cancer patients.This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at

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