When I think of the term “cost effective health care” until now, at any rate, I would have described it as the most cost effective way to provide the best health care possible. NOT TRUE……at least not true in Ontario.
An article in today’s Ottawa Sun blew me away when I read that a drug is considered “not cost effective” if it prolongs life and will therefore result in a further burden on the health care system down the road. CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT?
The case in question is a local gentleman with prostate cancer. His oncologist determined he could benefit enormously from a new drug called Zytiga – perhaps even double his life expectancy. The drug has been approved by Health Canada and is funded by 8 Canadian provinces under their health plans. Ontario, though, will not fund it. The Health Minister’s office bluntly stated that the drug is not cost-effective. While acknowledging its benefits, the message was that the drug is so effective in prolonging life, men will survive longer with prostate cancer, and will therefore cost the health care system more money.
Chemo is funded – requiring hospital time, nursing time, blood work and more. Zytiga is a once-a-day pill with relatively few side effects….no hospital time, no chemo, no nursing time, no blood work. But here’s the glitch: Because it is so well tolerated, it can be given to a much larger population – thus the province’s position…….more men will live longer than those given alternative treatments such as chemotherapy and this will, therefore, cost the health care system more money.
Somehow I find this thinking on the part of the Committee to Evaluate Drugs TWISTED. A third of my tax dollars are going to a health care system that really doesn’t want me to live as full a life as possible!!! How bizarre is that? What do you think?