The breast cancer community across Canada recently welcomed some long-awaited good news. The negotiation for Ibrance between the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance (a committee representing the provinces) and Pfizer Canada has been completed.
This means a letter of intent was signed, which is shared with the provinces and territories to use when they individually fund the drug. It’s now up to each province or territory to list the medication in their jurisdiction. (Read more about how cancer drugs get to market here.)
A new option for women living with metastatic breast cancer is undeniably good news.
But as we celebrate this milestone, it’s important to remember that this one step in the process to publicly fund a cancer drug took 15 months to complete and that thousands of women have been waiting for coverage. (Ibrance was approved by Health Canada in March 2016 and recommended for public funding in November 2016.)
The process takes far too long, especially for women living with MBC who continuously need treatments to keep their disease controlled. When compared to other countries, Canadians are waiting longer for new treatments to be available.
So, while we are a step closer to having public access to Ibrance, there is more work to be done. We encourage the provinces to start funding Ibrance quickly so the patients who need it can access it. But it doesn’t stop there.
We still need to advocate for a system that includes patients’ values whenever decisions about their health are made. We need a system that is open and transparent and has accountable timelines. We need a system that stops leaving #MBCinthedark.
I hope you will continue to stand up with us and add your voice to the call for much needed change. It’s about making change for patients today, but also about making change for a better tomorrow.