And so another month has gone by without an agreement on Kalydeco funding. I guess it is a question of priorities, and as much as we should be very proud as Canadians to share the success of our Olympic athletes at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, we stand a good chance of finishing dead last among developed Western OECD nations in negotiating a price for Kalydeco with Vertex Pharmaceuticals.
At the present time, it appears that Vertex has pricing agreements in place with the following countries or their jurisdictions:
Republic of Ireland
United States of America.
Australia, like Canada, has approved the drug but will also not pay for it until they have reached a pricing agreement with Vertex.
Now you might wonder how a small and presumably bankrupt country like Greece with a GDP of around 250 billion USD and a population of 12 million saddled with a 28% unemployment rate is willing and able to pay for Kalydeco. Compare this to Canada, a country with a population about three times its size, a 7% unemployment rate, and a GDP of 1.82 trillion USD. True, the prevalence of the G551D mutation per CF birth is lower in Greece, but that is hardly the point, is it? Unless, of course, this entire matter boils down to a matter of dollars and cents, as opposed to a consideration of the tremendous benefits that this drug will bring to those CF patients so badly in need of it.
Clearly, it cannot be the case that Canada is hard up for cash to pay for a life-saving medication such as Kalydeco, and especially not after Minister of State for Sport Bal Gosal told the House of Commons’ Heritage Committee that the government has invested more than $153 million over the last four years in Sport Canada programs to finance sport facilities and provide financial assistance to athletes. This represents an increase of $25 million over money spent in the four years leading up the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games. And if this country can find the money to support its Olympic athletes, it makes you wonder once more what this country’s priorities are with respect to supporting the critical needs of some of its less fortunate citizens, including those Canadians with CF and the G551D mutation who’s lungs are likely to suffer irreversible damage the longer they are denied access to Kalydeco.