Credits: REUTERS/Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc/Handout
The drug Zytiga doesn't cure the cancer, but it extends life by months and does so without adverse symptoms associated with other treatment, all through the daily intake of a simple pill. Coverage will begin Sept. 28.
"Finally, we have access to this therapy," said London, Ont., oncologist Dr. Kylea Potvin, who Wednesday alone saw three men would could benefit.
The news was met with joy by Heather Reddick, who has been advocating for her friend Percy Bedard.
"A great victory for all men in Ontario,” she said.
On Sept. 11, the health ministry placed Zytiga on the list of drugs covered under the Exceptional Access Program, which requires doctors to apply on behalf of patients.
Doctors have been told the drug will be made available beginning Sept. 28, and Potvin expects applications that meet the guidelines will be approved within days.
Zytiga is a last resort for men whose prostate cancer has spread and who wouldn't benefit from aggressive chemotherapy or chemical castration.
It targets an enzyme needed to make a hormone that feeds the cancer. Studies have shown it to slow the cancer's progression, extending life by months, or even years.
It was quickly approved in the U.S. and by Health Canada, but Ontario initially rejected the application because of the cost, a decision that outraged patients and oncologists, alike.
The maker of the drug, Janssen, provided it free for one year for all Ontario men, but that ended in February.
Since then, oncologists have pleaded with the ministry to cover the costs.