Islanders with vision loss get more help with drug costs

Professionally and personally, David Hilchey is glad to see new eye-care drugs added to the formulary.

Vision loss is very personal to David Hilchey.

His daughter lives with a syndrome that will - within this decade - limit her vision to what would be seen looking through a straw.

After almost 10 years of volunteering for the national organization that supports Canadians living with vision loss, he is now the Chair of CNIB's Prince Edward Island Board.

He was encouraged by the addition to the provincial formulary of several drugs dealing with vision loss.

Islanders will now have coverage for drugs known as anti-VEGF drugs for three additional eye conditions including diabetic macular edema, macular edema due to retinal vein occlusion, and choroidal neovascularisation. The province previously provided coverage of these drugs for age-related macular degeneration.

The coverage is part of announcement of provincial coverage for drugs dealing eye conditions, cancer, adult ADHD, cystic fibrosis and other illnesses.

“Providing assistance with the cost of these drugs can help lessen the financial stress on people with serious illnesses and let them focus more on their recovery,” said Health and Wellness Minister Robert Mitchell.

Hilchey said, “this is much-needed assistance. Some people are currently paying upwards of $14,000 a year out of pocket, and quite frankly a lot of fellow islanders with vision loss have limited ability to work full-time jobs.”

Only one-third of working-age Canadians with vision loss are employed and approximately half of Canadian working-age adults with vision loss are struggling to make ends meet on $20,000 a year or less.

“Fourteen thousand dollars is an extraordinary amount for a person affected by a disability.”

CNIB Prince Edward Island delivers programs and services to 1,000 clients but CNIB estimates that more than 22,000 Islanders are living with some form of sight loss.

These added drugs to the formulary will make a real difference in the lives of Islanders living with vision loss, he explains.

“The ongoing cooperation between government and the CNIB is what excites me most for the future of Islanders living with vision loss.”

Learn more about what drugs are covered on the  provincial formulary.

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