N.B. woman calling on government to cover cost of life-saving drug
Published Sunday, September 25, 2016 4:48PM ADT
A woman who is fighting a rare form of bone cancer is calling on the New Brunswick government to cover the cost of her medication.
Only about 600 cases of Erdheim-Chester Disease have been reported worldwide and Kelly Wilson says she will die without medication to stabilize the disease, which affects bone marrow.
“I went for a walk one day, the history of it is, and my knee just popped,” says the Fredericton resident. “I had an X-ray and they saw I had lesions on my bones, so I had a bone biopsy and through three different physiologists because they had never heard of it before either.”
Wilson believes she is the first Canadian patient with Erdheim-Chester Disease. She is currently taking samples of a medication, which stabilizes her symptoms, but says they’re running out.
"Now there is another drug called pegasys, which is an interferon, but it's also long acting,” said Wilson. “And another drug also called zelorof. Those two drugs are the only ones that they are talking about for my treatment."
Wilson applied to the New Brunswick government to have those drugs covered under her insurance, but both were denied.
One of the medication options would cost $16,000 a month, while the other would be between $5,000 and $6,000 – figures Wilson says she simply cannot afford.
"I've applied to Blue Cross for the pegasys and they've declined it,” she said. “I've applied to the New Brunswick drug plan, they've declined it because it's not a covered illness. Basically, so because it's not listed under that drug for that disease, there's not enough people that they are going to list this illness."
The two drugs Wilson would like coverage for are covered under the New Brunswick drug plan, but only under certain circumstances – none of which she falls under.
"It's really hard knowing there is a drug out there that if I can't get then my life is going to be over."
Wilson has two boxes of this medication left, but after that she's not sure what she will do. Her doctors predict she'd only survive a few months without medication.
The New Brunswick Health Department says they can't comment on specific cases and only offered a copy of what the current drug plan covers.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Ashley Blackford.