Lydia Toporowski and hundreds of patient's in Ontario are being denied coverage for a new form of treatment for metastatic pancreatic cancer. Read Lydia's story below ...
Lydia is a 48-year old woman living in Keswick, Ontario who recently went public with her fight to get coverage for a new chemotherapy regimen, Folfirinox, that is successfully treating her pancreatic cancer.
Last July, Lydia was diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer and was offered the standard chemotherapy treatment. When cancerous spots on her lungs started to grow, doctors switched her to Folfirinox. It is "working miracles" she said of the drug cocktail that is dramatically shrinking the tumors on her lungs and pancreas but this success is costing her $1700 every 2 weeks.
The prestigious New England Journal of Medicine recently published a paper that found the combination chemotherapy regimen of Folfirinox (consisting of oxaliplatin, irinotecan, fluorouracil, and leucovorin) produced a survival advantage in patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer when compared to gemcitabine. This news is hailed as the biggest advance in pancreatic cancer treatment in the past 30 years.
Folfirinox is currently approved in British Columbia and on a case by case basis in three other provinces (Quebec, Manitoba and Alberta). Approval for drug coverage in Ontario is slow and unlike other provinces, there is no case by case review.
Ontario Health Minister, Deb Matthews, was asked to comment on Lydia’s request to get coverage for this lifesaving treatment regimen and said last week that "there is no recourse for this woman...we have to let the process work ... I am sad to say that if a drug is not approved for use in Ontario then there are other combinations of drugs that are highly effective."
Libby Znaimer, national spokesperson for Pancreatic Cancer Canada, mentioned in her followup report that "Unfortunately, this is not true. If there were highly effective drugs for treating metastatic pancreatic cancer, the survival rate would be higher than 6%."
There is a glimmer of hope for the mother of two. Dr. Biagi, Co-chair of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Disease Site Group with Cancer Care Ontario, has applied for approval and has fast tracked the process but it is still up to the government to make a final decision. He told Libby that "I am pleased that Lydia has been able to take her case public - anything the system can do to speed up our approval process ... has to be a constructive thing."
To listen to Libby Znaimer's Zoomer Reports discussing the need to get coverage for Folfirinox in Ontario with Lydia, Deb Matthews and Dr. Biagi, please click on Radio Interviews - you will find links to the 3 interviews on the upper right hand corner of the website when you open the link.
Your support can help Lydia and hundreds of patients in Ontario. Together we can reach out to Health Minister Deb Matthews and let her know it is not acceptable for patients living in Ontario to be denied lifesaving drug coverage. Please sign and forward the petition to friends and colleagues.
If you would like to send a letter to Health Minister Deb Matthews, please copy the letter provided when you click THIS LINK and paste into the body of a new email addressed to Health Minister Deb Mattews - her email is provided at the bottom of the attached letter