B.C. couple says cancer treatment costing more than $1,200 a month, calls for more support
A Coquitlam couple says they’ve been paying more than $1,000 a month for a cancer treatment, even though the drug that’s not being fully covered is already approved and funded in B.C.
They’re now calling for transitional funding support for families who find themselves facing the same costly and stressful situation.
Kari Taylor Atkins said the latest type of treatment she’s undergoing for metastatic breast cancer has made a difference.
“So far it’s working, and I’m not having terrible side effects,” she said. “I am about as well as can be expected.”
Taylor Atkins was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in 2016, and underwent treatment which included the drug Herceptin. Three years later, she learned the cancer had spread to her liver and bones. Then, in 2020, brain tumours were detected. After surgery and rounds of radiation, last fall Taylor Atkins started a new treatment combination, which again included Herceptin.
However, unlike in the past, not all of the drug’s cost is being covered.
Her husband Matthew Atkins said they have been left paying about $1,250 a month for the treatment.
“Herceptin is like the backbone of the treatment, and it comes in combination with other drugs,” he said. “The two new drugs are not funded.”
WAITING FOR ANSWERS
Atkins said the cost of the two new drugs involved in the treatment is being covered by the manufacturers on compassionate grounds, while price negotiations take place with the government.
“Until that’s done and the combination is then rolled out as an official line of treatment on paper, that line of treatment doesn’t exist,” he said. “At the beginning we were told it probably could take four to six months. That was eight months ago. The last we were told was it could be another two years. Nobody knows.”
The couple is only getting 50 per cent coverage for Herceptin, and is calling for transitional funding to be made available for families who find themselves in this position.
“There’s only so much radiation and surgery that a brain will take,” Atkins said. “So ultimately without this drug, it will kill her. It will kill people like her.”
Taylor Atkins said their doctor has suggested they try an online fundraiser to help pay for the treatment.
“What should happen is nobody in British Columbia should be in a situation where they ever have to take a phone call from the pharmacist that says…your drugs are ready, I just need to make sure you have room on your credit card for me to be able to bring the drugs to the infusion clinic,” she said.
“It’s really awkward to understand that they’re prepared to take care of you as long as you’re not really sick…it feels a little bit like you’re being put out to pasture because there’s not much left. And how awful is that?”
MINISTRY SAYS BC CANCER MAKES FINAL CALL
CTV requested an interview with health minister Adrian Dix, and received an emailed statement in response, which said the combination of the three drugs received positive conditional recommendation from the pan-Canadian Oncology Drug Review process last November.
“In British Columbia, the final reimbursement decision is made by BC Cancer based on several factors, including the pan-Canadian recommendation and the outcome of price negotiations,” the ministry said.
“BC Cancer does have a Compassionate Access Program, which does review applications on a case-by-case basis. We do recognize that requests which have significant financial impact may be declined, as decisions should consider the benefit to the individual as well as the resource implications for the broader patient population.”
The couple also reached out to the health ministry through their MLA, and received a response letter in March which encouraged them to appeal to the drug company again “to reconsider granting compassionate access”, something they say they have already done twice.
“It is important to reiterate that BC Cancer has not yet made a decision regarding coverage of HER2 Climb (the treatment)…it appears the main limitation is the cost of treatment, with the report indicating that a 94 per cent reduction in price would be required for this combination of drugs to be cost-effective in the third-line setting,” the letter stated.
“Price negotiations are currently ongoing between the manufacturer and the jurisdictions.”
'I JUST WANT TO LIVE A LONG AND HAPPY LIFE'
Both Atkins Taylor and her husband are self-employed. They have had some initial funding help from family, but are facing an unknown wait and a growing expense.
“I just want to live a long and happy life, like we all do,” she said. “I would really like for this stress about this particular issue to just magically disappear, and it can if the government chooses to help not just me, but everybody in this same situation.”
Vancouver Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Patrick Brown is alleging political corruption played a role in his disqualification from the Conservative Party of Canada's leadership race, a move that came following allegations that his campaign violated election financing rules.
Despite being disqualified by the Conservative Party of Canada from becoming its next leader, ousted candidate Patrick Brown's name will still appear on the ballot.
Video has emerged showing a worker dangling in the air above a Toronto construction site after accidently getting entangled in a tagline attached to a crane.
The federal government has no intention of dropping the controversial ArriveCan app because it gives the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) key health information about travellers who test positive for COVID-19 through testing at airports and land borders, senior government sources tell CTV News.
Air Canada and Toronto's Pearson airport again claimed the top spots for flight delays on Tuesday, marking at least four days in a row where the country's biggest airline has placed No. 1 of any large carrier worldwide.
Air Canada said on Wednesday it will not allow animals in the baggage hold until Sept. 12 due to 'longer than usual' delays at airports, as carriers and airports wrestle with complaints over lost luggage and long lines.
As gas prices slightly trend down this week after some of the highest national averages seen in recent months, some Canadians may be thinking twice before planning their usual summer road trip plans. CTVNews.ca looks at how drivers can save at the pumps while travelling.
Prices have been easing slightly recently, but affording a mortgage is still a very difficult task for many Canadians. How much of a mortgage can you afford? Contributor Christopher Liew breaks it down in an exclusive column for CTVNews.ca.
A federal judge Wednesday sentenced Jerry Harris, a former star of the Netflix documentary series 'Cheer,' to 12 years in prison for coercing teenage boys to send him obscene photos and videos of themselves and soliciting sex from minors at cheerleading competitions.
Investigators say a man was lying in the roadway when he was struck and killed by a vehicle near Courtenay, B.C., on Wednesday.
The driver of a logging truck was airlifted to hospital in Victoria after he was pinned inside the vehicle following a rollover crash on Wednesday morning.
The number of Vancouver Island marmots in the wild increased this week, with 10 of the critically endangered rodents released onto a Mount Washington ski run.
Calgary drivers might be asking why the price of gasoline is more expensive in their energy rich province where oil is refined and extracted than in Ontario, but one retail expert claims to have the answer.
Police are investigating after receiving reports of shots fired late Wednesday afternoon in Bankview.
Blackfalds RCMP were called to the scene of a serious hit and run collision Wednesday evening.
Wade Stene, who admitted to kidnapping and sexually assaulting an eight-year-old Edmonton girl, was sentenced to 15.5 years behind bars Wednesday afternoon.
Emergency crews were called to a Mill Woods school on Wednesday after a security guard reportedly experienced irritation on their hands after finding a white powder.
Blackfalds RCMP were called to the scene of a serious hit and run collision Wednesday evening.
'I cannot get any rest': Residents complain of sleepless nights after alleged nightclub opens up under condo
Residents living in Toronto’s west end say they have been left utterly exhausted after an alleged nightclub opened up at the base of their condominium.
Ontario has likely entered a new wave of the pandemic driven by the more infectious BA.5 subvariant, the province’s science advisory table says.
A mother from Nova Scotia is speaking out about her recent travel experience through Toronto Pearson Airport after a WestJet flight delay left her and her daughters sleeping on a nursing room floor.
WATCH LIVE @ 9 A.M.
WATCH LIVE @ 9 A.M. | With another COVID climb, Quebec health minister calls news conference for Thursday morning
With COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations on the rise in Quebec, public health officials have called a news conference for Thursday morning.
'Not a time when Quebec can afford to lose young doctors,' province's opposition leader says of ER exodus
The leader of Quebec's Liberal Party paused her vacation briefly on Wednesday to react to the news that two young emergency room doctors have quit their jobs in their hometown of Montreal to work in Toronto.
A prominent Montreal drag queen who recently faced pressure from critics over library readings to young children says her storytime events scheduled for the fall were abruptly called off for unknown reasons.
A political breakup at Winnipeg City Hall is creating intrigue in a council race.
A community organization is proposing a network of cameras in an effort to bolster safety throughout the area.
Residents in a southern Manitoba town are asking questions as to why they are facing a summer with no emergency room.
A crash involving a fire hydrant was the first in a chain of events that led to a chaotic scene in a Saskatoon intersection.
Starting Thursday, riders looking to take Access Transit to get to their destinations will notice a shift in service over the next three weeks.
Two Ukrainian refugees, a brother and sister, are settling into their new home in Saskatoon.
The city’s executive committee discussed possible upgrades for Regina’s recreation facilities and event venues during a meeting Wednesday.
'I feel like I have everything to lose': Riders' Tevin Jones looks to maintain place on active roster
Wide Receiver Tevin Jones got his first regular season Canadian Football League (CFL) start in week four and will look to continue the momentum against Ottawa.
SaskEnergy has gained ownership of its Regina head office building following a decade long legal battle.
A person has been taken to hospital with serious injuries following a shooting in Halifax Wednesday night.
Halifax Regional Police and fire crews are investigating after receiving reports of a missing swimmer in Dartmouth.
The ex-boyfriend of Cassidy Bernard has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for manslaughter and a consecutive three years for child abandonment in connection with the young mother's death.
Once again due to staff shortages, the emergency departments at both Listowel and Wingham hospitals will be closed overal several upcoming dates.
Provincial police have identified the victim of a deadly motorcycle collision that occurred earlier this week.
The victim of a fatal head on collision earlier this week in Blandford-Blenheim has been identified as a 41-year-old man from Plattsville.
Christ the King Church in Sudbury is looking for your scrap vehicle.
Whether you’re looking for a change of pace, a breath of fresh air, or a glimpse into nature, northern Ontario has an outdoor oasis waiting to be discovered.
The chair of the Station Mall Merchants Association says news of the mall's sale to a southern Ontario holding company brings to a close years of uncertainty regarding the future of the property.
Break-ins targeting restaurants, salons, dress shops and cannabis stores have been reported in Kitchener, Waterloo and Woolwich.
'There’s no great answer': Low-income tenants weigh options in Cambridge as renovations push them out
Tenants of the Tiger Lofts, an affordable apartment building in Cambridge, say they’re being “renovicted” and won’t be allowed to stay after extensive renovations.
Police are looking for a man who allegedly grabbed and sexually assaulted a woman in a Kitchener park.