May 18, 2012
Nova Scotians being treated for abnormal heart rhythm caused by blood flow will have access to a new stroke-prevention drug under the provincial Pharmacare program.
The province announced on May 17 that it will provide $2.5 million in funding to add the anti-coagulant Dabigatran to Pharmacare for eligible patients who need an alternative to Warfarin.
Starting in June, Dabigatran, best known by the brand name Pradax, will be listed as a benefit to help prevent stroke in non-valvular atrial fibrillation patients who cannot be treated with Warfarin.
"We heard from many Nova Scotians who couldn't take warfarin but could not afford the alternative drug," said Health and Wellness Minister Maureen MacDonald. "Starting next month, Pradax will be available to these patients to help prevent stroke."
At the usual dose, Pradax is similar to Warfarin in preventing stroke and has a similar safety profile. Unlike Warfarin, Pradax does not need to be monitored as frequently.
"Working with the manufacturer and other provinces and territories, Nova Scotia established specific listing criteria that will allow eligible patients to access this medication under Pharmacare," said Ms. MacDonald. "For many patients, this drug provides an alternative to manage risk of stroke, while minimizing budget impact concerns."
About 8,000 to 10,000 Nova Scotians are taking Warfarin for atrial fibrillation and other conditions.
"I've been telling my patients about options to Warfarin therapy for some time now," said Dr. Adam Clarke, a cardiologist with Valley Regional Hospital. "While I appreciate there is a cost associated with adding a new drug to the Pharmacare coverage, I applaud the government for this decision. This addition will make a significant difference for many people who could not previously get the care they needed.
"I believe there will be fewer Nova Scotians having strokes this year because of this update."
Funding for Pradax is an example of how the province is taking action to get lower, fair prices for generic drugs and keep the dramatic growth of spending on drugs through Pharmacare in check. This year, government is on track to spend $6 million less on drugs because of its fair drug pricing plan.
Nearly 180,000 Nova Scotians benefit from Nova Scotia's Pharmacare program. More information about Pharmacare is available at www.gov.ns.ca/health/pharmacare .
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