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Cancer: Our national shame

The killing cost of drug treatment

From Monday's Globe and Mail

For a health-care system based on the principle of equal access, the reality is tragically different ...Read the full article

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  1. Stude Ham from Outremont, Canada writes: health care becomes an even greater risk the farther away anyone is from well developed urban cores.
  2. Mike Krafchik from Canada writes: And yet there are ministers out there crusading against the possibility of a 2 tier healthcare system - it's already here...
  3. Mac From Canmore from writes: I get tired of reading about the cost of drugs and how difficult it is for people to buy the drugs they need. WHAT IS OUR COUNTRY COMING TO. When the government can turn it's back on sick Canadians and then turn around and pledge millions of dollars for some 'project' in a third world country where the majority of funds go directly into the pockets of the officials'. It's time for Canada to sit up and take care of its citizens wether they are rich or poor. Lets clean up our own backyard before critizing the backyard of others. No more foriegn aid, no more pledges to help the third world enter the real world. Lets use our resources FIRST to help our own then, wecan help others. Canadians must use one voice to help their government find the proper road for their people.
  4. J L from Toronto, Canada writes: I rather we (the citizens) through our government pay for drug costs and have a smaller national surplus. It's the right thing to do.
  5. Les Budden from Canada writes: Seriously, at $30 or more a pill, the idea of means testing is irrelevant. Even 1 pill a day would be $10,800. Only about 5% of the population wouldn't be in financual difficulty over that. Group plans are not always a help..the experimental drugs are not covered.
  6. Richard Corteel from Halfwayiver, N.S., Canada writes: IN 2005 my partner of 17 years was diagnosed with cancer and survived ten months. He received Provincial help with the drug costs, otherwise we would be bpke. One injectionm required weekly, was $700 a time; another requires every day for 10 days after chemo, as $200 a shot. When he died, ther were unopened supplies of these drugs in the refrigerator; they could not be returned or recycled and were thrown out - estimated value $4,500. The drug companies and their shareholders are making a fortune from peoples illnesses.
  7. Matthew Baldwin from London, Ontario, Canada writes: Although a fiscal conservative, I absolutely believe in universal healthcare and the fact that these drugs should be covered. I've had two female friends in the United States lose homes due to cancers and as long as citizens risk losing everything due to illness, they cannot be equal. Bottom Line: Cancer drugs should be covered by universal healthcare, period, end of sentence, full stop.

    On the other side of the equation though we have to find ways to halt the waste. Although money is part of the solution, I think we have a long way to go with the general attitude in particular of Emergency Care workers. I have seen 3 cases in the last 10 years where people are left in absolute pain or in mid-athsma attack in a waiting room for well over two hours and the Emergency Room personnel are ABSOLUTELY INDIFFERENT. These are not the compassionate healtcare providers of old who actually care. They 'process' people.

    Fundamentally, I think as taxpayers we should be determining raises for Healthcare professionals based on quality of service surveys we complete and send in with our tax returns. No service = No raise. Give them an incentive to serve....otherwise we are guaranteed to continue to get very little for the huge investment we make.
  8. John Percy from Halifax, Canada writes: I feel compelled to comment, being an Atlantic Canadian who went through 22 months of chemotherapy and experimental drug treatment ( to counter the side effect of chemotherapy) at my own cost. While $700 to $900 a month may not seem significant to some, remember that many of us undergoing treatment cannot work. Try having the worst body flu you've ever had in your life every day and going to work or even functioning with friends and family. Staying conscious and emotionally stable is hard enough work. An employer can always find an unrelated reason to terminate you ( and yes it does happen, and no it shouldn't happen) which compounds the problem.

    Now I understand the pharmaceutical companies' need to recoup their R&D costs, but a lot of government help through grants and fellowships went into that R&D and should be offset by lower prices for these drugs. Are these costs not a tax deduction for the companies? Charging exorbitant prices for these necessary treatments seems inhuman. While government and industry are not necessarily always the bad guys here, the perception is different and we all know that perception is reality. You can't just do something. You have to be seen to be doing it, and willingly. How much is good PR worth to these people?
  9. polar camel from Toronto, Canada writes: It seems that it's not easy to obtain any basic numbers reflecting the real costs of various medical treatments. We do not know how much the doctors are charging for our visits in their offices. We don't know the costs of any lab works done. We don't know the costs of any procedures done in the hospitals and clinics. Everything is calculated behind our backs. And then suddenly we are given the bills for the drugs. If it were to be a comprehensive medical coverage, all prospective expenses should be listed for the patient and explained how they will be paid. Maybe it would be easier for many to negotiate payments for the lab tests, but have the drugs covered or maybe someone would rather pay for the doctors' work vs. the costs of the pills? If the money for the medicare is limited, everybody should have a chance to control its distribution and to negotiate individual contributions. As it is now, the only real costs patients are aware of are drugs, and even this only when they need to buy them after leaving the hospitals. We are all responsible for not being inquisitive enough about the real costs and for letting the system surprise as in the least desirable circumstances.
  10. g coburn from Lets Help Carefully, Canada writes: Lets remember that drug companies will demand more money for their drugs if they know that the government will pay for them. This will leave less money for other health services that are important too. Also, people like me who are in durg plans can afford the premiums, so it would be a waste of money for the government to cover me. I think assistance should be in an indirect way. The government should provide loans or tax breaks to poor people to pay: this way the drug companies can't get their hands on taxpayer money directly and those on plans would stay on them.
  11. Brett DAmelio from Toronto, Canada writes: At the risk of sounding completely heartless, I have to comment on people who expect to recieve more from the system (healthcare or otherwise) than they put in. (note I'm commenting on above statements not the lady with the terminal disease)

    If people choose to live away from places that provide certain services out of choice for lifestyle, culture, etc then they are choosing to give up the services/infrastructure that other places provide, whether that's Go Train Service/public transportation, shopping (NLFD has much smaller selection than say Montreal in its' stores), likewise you put up with the pollution/traffic/etc. Anyways, I'm just saying that medical care is similar. It's a service, and it will always be cheaper to provide it in an urban centre where many more people can defray the costs of doctors/pills (shipping) just because of an economy of scale. The real key here is not just how to provide the health care, but to convince people to live lives that will support them when difficulties strike.
  12. Robert M from Cagary, Canada writes: Read 'Sons and Lovers' by DH Lawrence...some things do not change.
  13. Normand LaBine from Winnipeg, Canada writes: How many of us are aware of the many forms of Cancer caused by Government Decisions? Radium and Uranium workers in Saskatchewan, Agent Orange issues in Atlantic Canada, favoured industries given incentives but not obligated to clean up when they close, leaving caustic chemicals. Poor waste management by Government, Municipalities and Provinces, dumping PCBc and Sulphur for decades in wilderness areas.

    Try suing a Party or Politicians for their health endangering decisions. Good Luck! On the other hand, it makes simple sense that if we can't sue these unqualified, elected, health-threatening terrorists, then a Health System that covers these endangerments to Canadians, by Canadian Officials is the least they need to do. But its not a continuation permit. Politicians have to get serious about the environmental complexity of each industry their backroom boys are schmoozing and stop the politically inflicted deficit.

    Nuclear Waste management comes to mind. If the Feds are considering selling off AECL, will they give them the funds to R&D new science to neutralize it? Not just dump it.

    Cellphone towers and hydro lines are affecting Dairy cows and milk-production. Will CRTC have the last word or will the Politicians overrule to 'promote competition'?

    Will Health Canada tell Canadians more rapidly and spend more money on their own research to prove or disprove food safety issues on both Canadian and Foreign Food alerts?

    Environment Canada, as part of the NRC, who manages Energuide and EnergyStar programs have a responsibility to speak to regional inequality issues concerning RADON Gas in the Prairies, where more youth have lung disease than other parts of Canada.

    Yes, the Feds need to step up and take their decisions beyond short-term gain, because the impact gets us way after they're gone to a diplomatic appointment.
  14. michel pelletier from bathurst, Canada writes: Being a pharmacist, I can aggree more about the high cost of durg, I see people having to turn to selling there houses to pay for drugs. The problem is probably to huge for any one to control, but at the same time I see to much money being wasted for nothing. The approach should be that if one is diagnose with a disease, that the money that he or she should spend on any drug should be cap at an amount that is affordable for any disease, and the rest of the cost should be pick up by our medicare.
  15. J Luft from Calgary, Canada writes: As usual, the left wing misses the reality of the situation. We simply cannot afford as a nation to pay for ever more expensive drugs anymore than we could afford to give everyone in the country a heart transplant. It's simply economics and all the wishing in the world isn't going to change that. To suggest that 'the government' should pay for all drugs all the time is sheer stupidity. The notion of government pharmaceutical care is just another socialist boondoggle that will move the country into bankruptcy. One has to ask the question, does it make any sense at all to come up with a drug that is cost prohibitive? As bad as it sounds, the 'government' cannot afford to keep all people alive at all costs. Quite simply, it is impossible.
  16. Elaine Nessman from Shawnigan Lake, Canada writes: Promoting healing should be our priority. The effect of stress on health has been well researched and documented. I was recently prescribed a drug to boost my white blood cell count which had been significantly reduced by the effects of my first chemotherapy treatment that I am receiving for breast cancer. It was not optional; I could not have the second treatment until my count was increased. Imagine the shock and stress I experienced when the bill for a 5-day supply was $926.00 and I had been told that I would likely need this for the next 7 rounds of chemotherapy as well. My group health insurance provider initially informed me that it would not be covered. Subsequent 'negotiations' have resulted in them agreeing to provide coverage, however, the energy that I spent worrying about the double whammy of my loss of income from not being able to work coupled with the added expense of medications could have been better directed towards healing. I am one of the lucky ones with extended health care coverage provided by my employer. My heart goes out to those who are not as fortunate.
  17. b mac from Canada writes: This is the cancer in our medical system. ...........Millions and millions of dollars are being spent on physicval examinations, which were never supposed to be covered under medicare in ther first place while Mrs Rhonda Morey gets pushed out of the system. this is a result of constant featherbedding by patients and doctors.................. Politicians are scared to death they will get defeated if they do what is morally right and change the medical system to protect Mrs Morey while doctors will not take lowere incomes to treat sick people but instead would rathert keep the insane practice of constant medical testing of healthy people in order to make excessive incomes with little medical work................ God bless Mrs Morey and her children.
  18. Bob ImamI from Canada writes: For those of you unfamiliar with the mind boggling cost of drug research, well, it is MIND Boggling. To first conjure a drug out of thin air, pay hundreds of researchers salaries, spend millions of dollars in equipment, studies, testing over decades with repeated failures, protect the drug with patents, arrange manufacturing, packaging and distribution, deal with the requisite subsequent law suites, federal regulations and them competition and off-shore copying, as well as generics cost billions of dollars.

    Who in their right minds would ever embark on the suicidal minefield of drug development when at the end of the day some one is going to demand that it is made free to the public. This stuff isn’t manna from heaven. It is tough to make a safe drug that is effective. It takes enormous risk and years of failures and inestimable amounts of money… that comes from???? Where does the money come from??? Ever ask that question?

    The companies that have given us wonder drugs like the statins, GRD treatments, acetaminophen, pain control, antibiotics, anti-virals, deserve to be rewarded for their good work. That means getting paid. There is no “right” to drugs. It is a wonderful privilege thanks to continued invention and imagination and hard work. I thank drug companies abundantly as a pay for medication. I reward their innovation. Without me and we who will pay for our drugs, they wouldn’t bother. (20/11/06 The killing cost of a drug treatment)
  19. sri raj from Toronto, Canada writes: There should be a mandatory national drug plan with the premiums paid when tax returns are filed (similar to OHIP). To eliminate abuse and reduce the premium the deductible should be high (I would suggest a $1000 annual deductible)
  20. Randal Oulton from Toronto, Canada writes: I don't understand why the talk is only about catastrophic drugs. In the UK, where the income tax rate is lower than ours, all drugs are part of healthcare, as is incidentally dental and eyecare. And people who work for the goverment in Canada get more than just catastrophic drug coverage.
  21. M. I. AM from Guelph, Canada writes:

    Drugs cost our health system more than any other costs. I recently received a list of drugs and what they cost. According to the research Pharmaceutical companies who have a stranglehold on the manufacture of their drugs mark up the price of their pills three to four THOUSAND times. It was the Liberal government that gave them the right to hold on to the drug patents for twenty years in order to protect them from generic manufacture.
  22. Carlos Segundo from Canada writes: J. Luft: you are such an unbelieveable a**hole that I can't understand how you can live with yourself. This has nothing to do with left vs. right.
  23. Yvonne Wackernagel from Woodville, Canada writes: I think this Government, regardless of party affiliation, should put its priorities in the right order. Building up expensive military hardware to be a 'leader' on the world stage -(U.S. description)- does not impress me whilst our vunerable citizens are suffering. The Americans have tried to stifle Cuba, but that country has one of the best, if not the best, healthcare and educational systems, and are even charitable enough to share (sometimes on a barter basis) with other countries. I would propose that all medical students who are subsidized by the Canadian taxpayer -whether they realize it or not -give back to society after being qualified to do so - by going out with Doctors Without Borders, or some other similar organization, before joining their greedy peers in the marketplace in North America.
  24. Johnny Chinook from Okotoks, Canada writes: #20 - Yeah, but the healthcare you get in the UK is garbage. I know a few people who were basically left to die in hospitals there. That's the last place I would want to be if I was sick. Canada has a much better level of service than the UK and a million times better than the USA (I've lived in both places). What Canada needs to do is promote better health to start with, which includes taxing people who smoke, and those who are overweight for no better reason than they eat too much and are lazy. At that point we can provide free drugs to everyone. Also, I know people from the UK who've moved here and are incredibly obeise. Other countries should not be allowed to immigrate their problems to Canada's healthcare system.
  25. E Mackeral from Canada writes: As a country of wealth, we spend stupid money on supporting programs of little value and concern. There is no accountability or stewardship of the different levels of government to focus in on the areas of priority spending. Official Languages could be easily dropped and billions that would be saved could be spent on a drug plan for these unfortunate souls. On the weekend, CPAC was broadcasting a senatorial debate on the money being spent on supporting Official (French) Languages in minority communities outside of Quebec (but no mention of supporting English in the Quebec community). Fully bilingual, they were all speaking French and the money in question in the billions -- money that is wasted on a population that could be used in Health care and the drug plan instead.
  26. Timothy Nessus from Somewhere..., Canada writes: Here we go again!!!
    Yes, it is an issue of greed. Yes, it is an issue of means. BUT is is ALSO an issue of political will.
    Canada HAD (yes, HAD) a superb group of independent pharmaceutical researchers. It is all but a shadow now.
    Canada HAD (yes, HAD) a government-based objective body for evaluating pharmaceuticals. Gone now.

    What can Canad do? Lots of things. Spend A LITTLE of the... what... 20 or so BILLION dollars going to the needless military in TRUE medical research using non-traditional methods and medicines.

    Now, before you label me as a dreamer, you should know that there IS SCIENTIFIC, CREDIBLE, REPEATABLE evidence that MANY of these treatements WORK!!!

    Yet... people suffer and die needlesly... why??

    Where is Canadian WILL when it REALLY matters??? Oh... yes... fighting in Afghanistan....
  27. Timothy Nessus from Somewhere..., Canada writes: And for those of you that actually think that pharmaceutical R&D costs a fortune, let me give you a few facts: 1 - In MANY, MANY ocassions Big Pharma companies simply takes on research that was performed by government agencies. Total cost... eh... about ZERO. 2 - In MANY, MANY ocassions Big Pharma companies simply BUT patents or very-small companies with new products. Total cost: peanuts! 3 - MANY, MANY Big Pharma companies are discovering that THEY are pathetically inefficient when it comes to R&D. To the point that THEY themselves are re-organizing R&D into VERY small, dynamic units. Toatl cost? peanuts! 4 - R&D for Big Pharma companies is getting MORE AND MORE automated. A shot-gun approach is now cost effective. Total cost in the big scheme of things? Roasted Peanuts!!!! SO PULEEESSEEEE DON'T give me the argument that POOOR BIG PHARMA companies need to make bazillions of dollars in order to remain in business. IT IS A MYTH! GET OVER IT!
  28. Cymro yn byw yma Canada from Canada writes: Why are we spending so much on places like Afghanistan when
    there are Canadians in dire need of funds to pay for medical
    expenses and ancillary costs of disease? Is it because the people we so stupidly elect to govern us are more concerned with their own careers and power than they are for the folk who put them in power?
  29. Carlos Segundo from Canada writes: M. I. AM: I believe it was Mulroney's Tories who extended patents to twenty years, not the liberals. Compulsory licensing applied to Canadian manufactured drugs, had been legal in Canada since 1923. It applied to Canadian manufactured products but not to imported drugs. Royalties were paid to the holders of the patent. In 1969, faced with some of the highest drug prices in the world, the Government allowed compulsory licensing on imported drug products. Overall drug prices were reduced for the purchaser. In 1987, Bill C-27 extended patent protection and reduced the time frame for compulsory licensing. In 1993, Bill C-91 was introduced, eliminating compulsory licensing by extending twenty year patent protections to new pharmaceuticals.
  30. Cymro yn byw yma Canada from Canada writes: Carlos Segundo from Canada writes: J. Luft: you are such an unbelieveable a**hole that I can't understand how you can live with yourself. This has nothing to do with left vs. right. Please, Mr Carlos Segundo, take no notice of our village idiot Luft and his weird opinions. He thinks all judges are 'lefties'. I do think that he doesn't really believe all the tripe he dishes out. I regard it as some more of his HeissLUFTbehandlung( hotAIR treatment) When Harper is down to one vote it will be Mr Luft's.
  31. F E from Ottawa, Canada writes: So if what J luft is saying is right, then the rich do indeed get to live longer and the poor not only die sooner, they also die a much more uncomfortable death. At least this is the impression you give me with yoru statment, as it stands under the current government.
  32. a salajan from Toronto, Canada writes: #15 While it might seem improbable now, read some stats and will see you are very likely to be diagnosed with cancer in your lifetime. And that might change your thinking that this country will go bankrupt by trying to keep its people alive.
  33. Normand LaBine from Winnipeg, Canada writes: J. Luft. I have to thank you for raising the most right-wing views we often see. That kind of extremism is why he has and will never have a majority government. Being a money-friendly country doesn't exclude people. People are the nation. The land and its resources were in better shape before we screwed it up, before 140 years of differing Partisan Politicians (Corrupt and Honest) screwed it up, and before many Industries screwed it up. Now 7 generations later, we have the science and smarts do avoid repeating our screwups, and watching people die through stupid political and industrial decisions. The Healthcare system castrated the ability to use Natural cures and converted them to modern witchcraft potions we call drugs and medicines.

    Ideal Conservatism says the individual takes care of his own success and failures. The only way that works well is if the government of the day allows people to use them rather than the big Pharmas. I can tell you of at least 10 plants, trees and natural sources without consulting a Medical reference that I can find on my Inner City Street. The books that used to publish those Home Remedy references are no longer in print.

    They were prohibited by Conservative Governments looking for campaign donations from the Pharmas. Oh! Government meddling againt the voters. The 'Luftwaffer' says too bad. We vote for them and they favour the big donors rather than the X-markers who gave them a mandate for good responsible government.

    Keep it up Luftie. Your good work is why there is a Left-Wing, rather than a Government that puts people first.
  34. Jimmy K from Toronto, Canada writes: I remember hearing a figure of approximately 9-12 billion a year to start up a catastrophic drug coverage plan with a reasonable deductible (5k?). That IS a lot of money, but it certainly is affordable by our Federal government. Drug costs have always been a huge glaring weakness in our healthcare system, perhaps we should start trying to address it.
  35. Alistair McLaughlin from Ottawa, Canada writes: There's a lot of complaining about 'exhorbitant' costs of drug treatments charged by the pharmaceuticals. We should remember that the cost of developing a single drug and brininging it to market is just over $1 billion US on average. That cost must be recouped somehow. Limiting the amount drug companies charge will also reduce the amount they have available to spend on researching and developing new compounds. As for developing new and better treatments, 'big pharma' is the best friend we have. No government could possibly step in and provide the necessary infrastructure, staff, and research budgets necessary to develop new drugs and bring them to the market -- the costs are astronomical. Yes, governments should be investing in R & D, and should be developing innovative ways to help people with the prohibitive costs of needed medications. But slapping the pharaceuticals with more onerous regulations and reducing patent protection will only make the problem worse in the long run.
  36. Patricia C from Toronto, Canada writes: Let's remember that drug costs are not just difficult for cancer patients. Many other people suffer from chronic and acute diseases like MS, which have nightmarish costs. Beta-Seron, for example, costs $25,000 a year and is long-proven to control MS lesions and symptoms and even reverse the disease process. This keeps patients healthy and working and out of hospital. Yet, the government will not pay for it, and the Trillium drug plan is very hard to qualify for. The deductible in our case would be thousands of dollars, which we do not have. Since we are self-employed we have no private drug plan. And so we cannot afford to keep my husband from being paralyzed.
    If we took over the private drug benefit plans with one government plan instead we could negotiate real discounts for all drugs and people could stay out of hospital and with their families, no matter what the illness.
  37. David More from Kingston, Canada writes: Privatize it! Oops, it already is.
  38. Bob ImamI from Canada writes: I noticed a poll question on the G&M which coincidentally? Made reference to the subject. I think it was presented incorrectly. It should read:

    Should Ottawa and the provinces underwrite all cancer-related drugs and treatments across Canada or should a means test be applied to those in need?

    1. Government should pay all costs
    2. Those who can afford it should be made to chip in
    3. The government should stay out of it. (My addition)

    Please put in one check for the “government should stay out of it” on my behalf. Thanks. By the way, heart disease will kill half of everybody. What about heart disease drugs… etc etc. (20/11/06 The killing cost of a drug treatment)
  39. John Li from somewhere, Canada writes: If we want to make drugs free, why don't we make everything free? Wait a minute, doesn't that make us COMMUNIST? Who's going to pay for anything? Free research, free drugs, what's next, free housing, free cars? Why don't we all just sit around and not produce, and not reward those who work hard and spend effort to enhance and advance society?
  40. J D from Canada writes: With increased access to drugs, overall health spending declines, as people are able to carry on and stay out of acute and long term care facilities, which are still the real drivers of health care costs. Big pharma is innovative, that is a product of R and D and it means they cost a lot, but they save money elsewhere.
    Not all drugs get recommended for reimbursiment, even with the power of bulk purchasing. The newer ones get left off as the are the most costly. There are also provisions to only allow a certain number of drugs in a category. Hopefully, with increased consumer (read:VOTER) involvement that will change.
  41. Vickky Angstrom from Canada writes: We have a problem because the politicians won't authorize the health care people to negotiate fiercly with the pharmaceutical companies. I wonder why not? No really. Why not? Why are the ridiculous price tags sacred? They claim R&D costs. Yet many universities in Canada would be happy to reclaim non-biased drug research and development from the drug companies. I would trust a drug developed by a public university before I trusted a drug developed by a pharmaceutical. The whole basis for bargaining with the drug companies needs to be re-examined. If there is a profit to be made, the drug companies will come to the table. I'm not against profits. Just obscene profits. The politicians need to let the public servants do their jobs and negotiate the prices of these drugs.
  42. Alan Wong from Canada writes: To 22 on 15: Haha, I'm amused that your comment was not censored, even if it was right on the button. To 21 on drug costs, if you mean the costs of manufacturing the pill, that may be true. But the R&D costs of developing drugs is astronomical. Although I disagree with how much profits the drug companies make, There is no way in HELL they could get away with a 3-4 THOUSAND time straight profit margin. You have to factor in the cost of Development, which really is where the bulk of the costs are. To 18, while I agree that we have to be wary of making drug development financially inviable, there is only so much profit the drug companies can make before it becomes unreasonable. When the Drug Companies price their drugs so that most people must spend their livelihoods and their CHILDREN's livelihoods on the treatments, then they stop being a net benefit on society and start having a detrimental effect. From this article it's clear that in Canada this is beginning to become the case, and it should be stopped. Economics must always be tempered by Ethics.
  43. Mr Fijne from Calgary, Canada writes: Here are few comments:

    1) Wipping out $26 billions of wealth overnight thanks to Flaherty's Income Trust move won't make affording drugs much easier for anyone. Deferred taxes were never evaded, they were just deferred: now they are lost for all.
    2) When it comes to health care, the same that are so rabbidly opposed to the two tier system are in the same breath voting through the Globe poll to have government help on drugs tied with income! How about that if not a two tiered system? What's next? Should the price of a steak be tied to income too? Water? Bread? This is called communism and guys, millions paid with their lives to demonstrate it does not work, unless Cuba and North Korea are your dream lands...
    3) As for those who believe the government should take over everything because they would make it more efficient... yes, just writing it sounds weird so imagine living with it!
    4) As a Canadian who created wealth for my country, not only would I be denied the choice to use my after tax dollars to provide my family with the care I wish, but I would have to pay even more to cater to every smoker's cancer treatment in the country in the name of Tommy Douglas! This is beyond solidarity, this is extortion.
    5) People know better what fits them, not the government. However the governement can set a climate where people keep more money so they can tender to their needs independently. Sadly what we could have expected from a conservative government ended up to be more control and socialism!
  44. S Lucht from British Columbia, Canada writes: It's unfortunate that hysteria so often enters discussions about health care. The funding of cancer care alone is far too complex to be addressed in a newspaper article, so important facts are left out. Then the misunderstandings begin.

    Timothy Nessus (26, 27): Data confirming the efficacy of non-traditional techniques and medicines are practically non-existent. Many studies that are available are biased and underpowered, and their results are not reproducible. This is not to say that there is no value in traditional medicines--only that their true value is unknown. And your mini-exegesis on drug R & D costs is far too simplistic. Yes, large companies sometimes acquire the rights to molecules developed by smaller companies or academic researchers. However, depending on the stage of development at the time a large company acquires rights to an agent, it may still cost tens of millions of dollars to bring that drug to market. Obfuscation and misleading information don't lend strength to your arguments.

    And no, we do not need to provide access to every drug that comes to market. The cost-benefit ratio for some of these agents simply does not justify making them widely available. Some very expensive anti-cancer drugs may only add weeks or a very few months to the life of an advanced cancer patient, and may even be relatively toxic. While even a brief prolongation of life may be very important to someone with a terminal illness, we cannot afford to spend a disproportionate amount of health care funding on a relatively small segment of the population. Tough choices have to be made to ensure that all Canadians are guaranteed access to primary, chronic, and critical illness care.
  45. gordon foster from Canada writes: It seems to me that everyone eventually dies. No drug has yet been invented to kep people alive indefinitely. People who spend all their money and go into debt for medication must really be sick. If I ever contract cancer I intend to just suck it up and recover or bite the big one, seeing as I don't have a credit card. Don't we all have choices that we can make?
  46. Cymro yn byw yma Canada from Canada writes: You said that 'We should remember that the cost of developing a single drug and bringnging it to market is just over $1 billion US on average' Question: Does that include the cost of all that unnecessary TV advertising as well as the detail men who visit doctors to push this or that drug. Does that include the millions spent bribing doctors with freebies such as holidays and expensive gifts. 'Is XYZ right for you; ask your doctor'. Oh brother! Actors in white coats sporting stethoscopes pretending to be concerned about our health. It all comes out of that million. All a doctor has to do to keep up is to read the research or advertising aimed specifically at them. This is a very inexpensive way of informing the medical profession. Does anybody know what it costs the pharmaceutical indusry to finance that great lobby of theirs. That too comes out of the million. Remember that a lobby never represents the interests of the consumer or voter; only the interests of the industry which pays for the lobby. Patients of the world unite; you have nothing to lose but the high cost of your pharmaceuticals.
  47. Susan Sunday from London, Canada writes: I understand everyone has their different views on our health care system in Canada. However, I think that general concept of human compassion has been lost along the way. Here is a story about a very young woman who will not be there for her kids. All the debating is about whether we should or should not have an equal access health care system that includes access to the proper prescription medication. While this is the underlying issue all I have to say is get off your pedestals and help her!! Be compassionate. Figure out what you can do for her and her family instead of debating the issue for now as there is a obviously a time constraint on this.
  48. Rhonda Morey from Canada writes: I just had to wrie a response to 'S Luct from BC'
    you say, 'some very expensive anti-cancer drugs may only add wks or months to the life of an advance cancer patient.'
    I say'Don't you think that we as patients see those drugs as a chance! In july'04 I was given until Christmas '04 to live. With someone believing in those drugs & me, I was given a chance. Have I beaten the odds? YES!!!!! Will I DIE? YES!!!! But the hope that these drugs have given me and others jusst could be the miracle to help fight this disease.
    I know, I have lived it! Two years later, I am still making memories with my family!
  49. Max Maxwell from Dornoch, United Kingdom writes: Some friends and I would like to financially help Rhonda Morley reduce her debt. Is there a Globe and Mail fund, a bank, whatever, to which we can send funds?

    Her story is inspiring. Well done, Rhonda. Thank you for sharing, and thanks to Lisa Priest for her excellent research and reporting.
    Max
  50. B. T. from Canada writes: I don't understand that the government cannot provide a good and time efficient health care system, and yet, we can give millions of dollars away to fight wars -- am I missing something here? Let's get our own house in order before we go out and spend elsewhere.
  51. AE Bell from Vancouver, Canada writes: I think Ms. Sunday's comment (#47) hit the nail on the head. The Globe's special feature on Cancer coincides with a devastating diagnosis in my family: my mother has pancreatic cancer, one of the more aggressive and difficult-to-treat cancers out there. So far, the care she has been receiving at her local hospital in rural Nova Scotia, and in Halifax, has been excellent. But we're still waiting to find out what's next for her. Unfortunately, my parents don't have a lot of money; one of the things that I'm worried about is how I can help them get through this financially as much as anything. Until today, my comments about the cost/state of drug care/health care in Canada would be theoretical -- now, of course, it has an all too human face.

    Left wing/right wing -- doesn't matter to me -- I'm just desperately hoping that fast, proactive treatment will give me, my brother and my father as much time as possible with this wonderful, spirited person who is my mother. And I'm hoping we'll be able to afford those drugs that may help her beat the ugly statistics that accompany pancreatic cancer.
  52. Cindy Scott from Maritimes, Canada writes: I know that if I were diagnosed with cancer I would want to squeeze as much life as possible ( as Mrs. Morey is doing ) into the time I had left. Mrs. Morey should have ALL medications available to have a pain free and peaceful end. Her family are the ones who will suffer the most....how traumatic is must be for Mrs. Morey's 2 young children to see their Mom in pain and feeling unwell for most of the day.
    I think there is a huge amount of waste in this country. We are fighting wars that are not our own, our politicians lie/steal/cheat the average Canadian out of our hard earned money. Our healthcare system is crumbling....people are truly suffering. The amount of taxes we pay is scandalous!! We need to band together and fight for what is right. Drug companies should have money for research, etc but charging outrageous amounts of money for medication shouldn't be tolerated. Politicians need to have their salaries cut in half and they need to be more transparent and accountable, afterall they are working for us.
    God bless the Morey's.

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