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Health Ministry working to cover Parkinson's medication

Many British Columbians are battling Parkinson’s disease and the Ministry of Health wants to work with the Pacific Parkinson’s Research Centre to make that fight a little easier.

The ministry wants to identify and prioritize patients for coverage of the medication Duodopa, which is used to fight Parkinson’s.

“We’ve been in discussion with the Parkinson Society British Columbia and the Pacific Parkinson’s Research Centre about this treatment,” explained Health Minister, Terry Lake. “They have shared strong testimonials and compelling accounts of the drug improving symptoms and quality of life for some patients.”

<who>Photo Credit: KelownaNow

Physicians will identify suitable patients and submit requests for PharmaCare coverage under the ministry’s special authority program.

Coverage is expected to be provided to a small number of patients who are clinically appropriate, may benefit from treatment and whom other options like deep-brain stimulation surgery are not feasible.

“Through a rigorous drug review process, our goal under the PharmaCare program is to find the best treatment options while still maintaining value dollar for British Columbians,” explained Lake. “With introduction of coverage on an exceptional basis, we are offering an additional option for families facing this terrible disease.”

Duodopa is a gel-form combination of two medications, levodopa and carbidopa, that is administered directly to the small intestine through a surgically placed tube.

PharmaCare covers the oral form of levodopa and carbidopa already, but not Duodopa.

The ministry will also be reviewing the use of deep-brain stimulation surgery for severe Parkinson’s patients, compared to Duodopa.

B.C.’s PharmaCare program covers approximately 12 drugs proven to be effective for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

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