Guest blog post by Elizabeth Eakin

Within Canada, many patients are forced to move outside of their homes to receive the treatment they need. As skin cancer is affecting more and more Canadians each year, a high volume of patients all over Canada are forced to travel in order to receive their suited treatment. Currently, Melanoma is the fasting growing cancer in Canada, with an estimated 6,800 diagnosed in 2015. As the incidence continues to increase, greater access and availability to treatment are needed. One of Save Your Skin foundations immediate goals is to provide melanoma patients with access to information about trial drugs as well as provide financial support to allow patients access to their suited treatment. This is an intricate and expensive task that takes knowledge of the drug process within Canada to fully understand.

Within Canada, drug authorization of sales is an extremely long process. It can take up to two years before the drug is approved for review. During these transparent years, the trial drug undergoes scientific testing’s regarding safety, effectiveness and quality of manufacturing. From there, the pan-Canadian Oncology Drug review products, Common Drug Review (CDR) and the non-oncology drugs review (pCODR) overlook the drug. The review time includes comparisons to existing drugs on the market as well as cost-effective evaluations. Once assessed, the review is sent out to all participating federal, provincial and territorial drug benefit plans in Canada, which make the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance (pCPA). They decide whether joint pan-Canadian negotiations will occur for the drug product. If they decide to move forward, one jurisdiction will lead with the manufacturer, while an agreement between all other participating jurisdictions will be signed. If an agreement can be reached between participating jurisdictions and the manufacturer, a letter of intent will be signed and shared with all participating jurisdictions. After the pCPA process, each jurisdiction is then responsible for individually making a decision on funding through their public drug plan. These plans are then entered into a jurisdiction specific product listing agreement with the manufacturer.

After this long process individuals can gain access to the pharmaceutical drug depending if the province supports and funds it. The specificity of which provinces/territories provide access and funding makes the process long and tumultuous. In order for each patient to get the treatment they need, many need to travel, adding further expenses and stress. For those struggling with skin cancer, the Save Your Skin foundation does all it can to provide patients with access to trial treatments as well as financial and emotional support. As a foundation, we want to help each patient receive the best individual care possible, so they can fight their hardest against this disease.

Figure 1: pan- Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance