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Health

NWT to cover cystic fibrosis drug said to cost $300K per year


A “transformational” yet extremely expensive drug able to treat up to 90 percent of Canadians with cystic fibrosis will be covered by the Northwest Territories government.

Trikafta was approved for sale by Health Canada in June. The charity Cystic Fibrosis Canada, which has campaigned for the drug to be covered by provincial and territorial governments, says Trikafta will have “profound health benefits for Canadians living with cystic fibrosis.”

The NWT government on Thursday said it would join most other Canadian jurisdictions in offering coverage of Trikafta. The GNWT said the drug’s retail price is approximately $300,000 per patient, per year.

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“Residents with cystic fibrosis being prescribed Trikafta can apply for coverage under the Government of the Northwest Territories’ Extended and Métis Health Benefits programs,” the territory said in a news release.

“First Nations and Inuit residents can apply under the Federal NIHB program.”

To be eligible for Trikafta, affected residents must be aged 12 or older and have at least one F508del mutation, the most common mutation that results in cystic fibrosis. Cystic fibrosis, an incurable and progressive genetic disease, mainly affects the digestive system and lungs – causing thick mucus to build and consequent complications that can significantly shorten life expectancy.

Trikafta is a combination of three drugs that target a defective protein responsible for cystic fibrosis. The drugs improve the protein’s function. Cystic Fibrosis Canada says there had been “decades of hope for a drug like this.”

Julie Green, the NWT’s health minister, said she was “pleased that residents with cystic fibrosis now have access to this life-altering medication.”

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The number of NWT residents who could be helped by the treatment was not immediately clear. “It is estimated that one in every 3,600 children born in Canada has cystic fibrosis,” the territorial government said.

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