'The power to transform the lives': Alberta to cover new cystic fibrosis drug Trikafta


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Alberta will be among the first in Canada to fund a new Health Canada approved drug to treat people living with cystic fibrosis.

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Health Canada approved the use of Trikafta on June 18 for CF patients ages 12 and older who meet eligibility criteria, the province announced in a news release Friday. Patients who have at least one F508del mutation in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator gene, are experiencing decreased lung function and are optimized with best supportive care can qualify to access the drug. Ontario and Saskatchewan also announced they will cover the cost of Trikafta for eligible residents starting Oct. 1.

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a genetic disease in which thick mucus accumulates in the lungs, digestive tract and other parts of the body. Symptoms of cystic fibrosis may include a persistent cough, shortness of breath, frequent chest infections and weight loss. It can lead to serious respiratory issues, malnutrition and other complications.

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Alberta cystic fibrosis patient, Amanda Bartels, said in the news release Friday that she was granted compassionate access to Trikafta in June 2020. She said she is “beyond thrilled” that younger Albertans living with CF will now be given a chance to live a healthier life thanks to the drug.

“I went from being on oxygen and starting the process for a double lung transplant to finally taking a deep breath and fully living my life as an active wife and mom,” Bartels said.

According to Cystic Fibrosis Canada, about one in every 3,600 children born in Canada has CF.

The province estimates the disease impacts about 600 Albertans.

“Our community has fought hard for this day and sadly lost many loved ones along the way. We are relieved that Ontario, Alberta, and Saskatchewan have moved forward to ensure access to Trikafta. Now, we call on all other provinces to move swiftly,” said Cystic Fibrosis Canada chief scientific officer, Dr. John Wallenburg, in a statement Friday.

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“While we are pleased with the news, we also need to ensure that access to Trikafta is granted to everyone eligible under Health Canada’s indications. We ask the provinces to follow Cystic Fibrosis Canada’s clinician-developed guidelines and provide access to all Canadians living with CF who would benefit from this life-changing treatment.”

The pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance, a body that negotiates drug prices on behalf of the provinces, negotiated an agreement on conditions of coverage for cystic fibrosis drugs, including Trikafta, Orkambi and Kalydeco.

Cystic Fibrosis Canada is advocating for all remaining provinces and territories to fund Trikafta under their own public drug programs.