Nine in ten Canadians agree that patients suffer when treatment decisions are influenced by drug cost
Patients and physicians, in a recent survey commissioned by the IFA, reported that Canadians should have access to the most appropriate Health Canada-approved treatments for retinal and other conditions, irrespective of cost.
THE IMPACT OF VISION LOSS
CNIB, using 2013 data, estimated the direct health costs of vision loss due to AMD and diabetic retinopathy to be $1.8 billion and $412 million per year respectively.iii Add to this the cost of falls, depression, hip fractures and nursing home admissions associated with vision loss are estimated to be $25.8 million, $175.2 million, $101.7 million and $713.6 million, respectively.iv
"Vision loss is not just about a physiological loss; there is often a cascade of losses that an individual and often their spouse or relative experiences," explains Louise Gillis, National President, Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB). "In addition to diminished independence, vision loss has also been related to higher rates of unemployment, divorce and clinical depression. Being more informed and engaged in eye health, including knowing about the full range treatments that can potentially treat and even restore vision loss is a "win-win" socially and economically."
THE EYE SEE YOU CAMPAIGN
While sharply focussed on issues related to protecting and maintaining vision health, the Eye See You campaign also focuses on the need for individuals and families to be fully informed and educated about the treatment options available to them. The campaign addresses physicians as well, supporting their autonomy to decide the most appropriate, evidence-based treatment for their patient.
"The Eye See You campaign recognizes the critical relationship between patients, including their family and doctors in discussing treatment options, making educated choices and helping remove barriers to the most appropriate treatment and care available," says Dr. Jane Barratt, Secretary General, International Federation on Ageing.
ADDRESSING THE ISSUE
Fortunately, many retinal conditions are treatable if the appropriate treatments are available and delivered in a timely manner.v "Timely access to the therapy is critical to maintaining vision health," says Dr. Barratt. "Recent discussions about drugs used to treat retinal conditions has raised important questions about how therapies are accessed in Canada," she continues. "Decisions to restrict access to any appropriate therapy should be based on scientific evidence and the real-word experience of stakeholders including patients, physicians and patient organizations, and not on cost savings."
SURVEY REACHED OUT TO INDIVIDUALS AND PHYSICIANS
Canadians insist that choice trumps cost. According to two Ipsos surveys conducted in June 2016 – one of Canadians over the age of 45 and the other among medical specialists and family physicians there is strong agreement that a physician in consultation with the patient should be able to determine the most appropriate Health Canada-approved treatments for retinal and other conditions. Cost may be a consideration but not at the expense of a person's vision and their function.
Most of the medical specialists and family physicians that were surveyed agreed that therapeutic recommendations based on cost containment restrict their autonomy as medical professionals to be able to determine the appropriate treatment for their patient. Three-quarters of those surveyed also say they have witnessed a patient's health suffer at some point in the past year because they were unable to afford better medications.
"As a physician working with patients and their families to understand a diagnosis and to help them find the best treatment for their eye condition, it is frustrating to have to tell them that the best treatment for them might be out of reach because of what our healthcare system is willing to pay for," explains Dr. David Wong, MD, FRCSC, Ophthalmologist-in-Chief, Diseases and Surgery of the Vitreous, Retina, Macula and Choroid, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences, Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, St. Michael's Hospital. "This leads to outcomes as avoidable and regrettable as blindness when the right treatment at the right time is denied to patients, and could maintain their eyesight."
For more information about the Eye See You campaign, please visit www.eye-see-you.ca
About the IFA
The International Federation on Ageing is an international non-governmental organization (NGO) with its headquarters in Toronto, Canada. Its goal is to be a global point of connection of experts and expertise that help to contribute to the dialogue on effective policy towards healthy aging.
________________________i i http://www.cnib.ca/en/about/media/vision-loss/pages/default.aspxii ii http://www.cnib.ca/en/about/media/vision-loss/pages/default.aspxiii Canadian Council of the Blind, Canadian National Institute of the Blind, and the Foundation Fighting Blindness (2015). Patient Summary. https://www.cadth.ca/anti-vascular-endothelial-growth-factor-drugs-retinal-conditionsiv Canadian Council of the Blind, Canadian National Institute of the Blind, and the Foundation Fighting Blindness (2015). Patient Summary. https://www.cadth.ca/anti-vascular-endothelial-growth-factor-drugs-retinal-conditionsv Angiogenesis Foundation (2012). Advocating for improved treatment and outcomes for wet age-related macular degeneration. http://www.mdfoundation.com.au/resources/Australia_AMD_Whitepaper.pdfvi Ipsos Survey, June 2016 www.ipsos-na.comvii Ipsos Survey, June 2016 www.ipsos-na.com
SOURCE International Federation on Ageing
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