Manufacturer moves to bring ‘life-changing’ cystic fibrosis drugs to Canada

A pharmaceutical company says it’s taking steps to bring cystic fibrosis drugs to Canada in a much-anticipated move that advocates say could have a profound impact on patients.

A Vertex spokesman says the manufacturer plans to move forward with its new therapies for the disease in Canada, and any applications for Health Canada approval will be posted on the agency’s website.

Cystic Fibrosis Canada and other advocates hailed the development as a triumph in their prolonged campaign to help patients gain access to “life-changing” treatments.

Experts estimate that one of Vertex’s medicines, Trikafta, which has been approved in the U.S., could treat 90 per cent of patients with cystic fibrosis.

In February, Vertex declined to comment on why it hadn’t applied for Trikafta to be approved in Canada, but expressed reservations about federal drug-pricing reforms. The company says it remains concerned that the finalized regulations, which are set to come into effect on Jan. 1, will limit patient access to future medical innovations.

Heath Canada did not immediately respond to questions about whether it has received an application for Trikafta to be approved for use in Canada. The arm’s-length Patented Medicine Prices Review Board declined to comment on Vertex’s concerns about its guidelines.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 10, 2020.

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