News Release Archive

A drug that stops the immune system from rejecting a new kidney
or pancreas is now funded by the Department of Health.

Funding for the drug, called Mycophenolate (Cellcept), is an
important step in helping to improve the quality of life for
transplant recipients.

The drug leads to a reduction in organ rejection in the year
following the transplantation of a kidney or a pancreas, the
period when the greatest rate of rejection occurs. It is
anticipated the drug will improve quality of life, and help to
reduce health care costs, by improving the survival of new
organs, by reducing the need for dialysis and, in some cases, by
eliminating the need for another transplant.

Maintaining a patient on dialysis for one year is estimated to
cost from $40,000 to $50,000. The cost per patient for
Mycophenolate is approximately $5,400 a year. For every 100
successful kidney transplants, the cost savings to the system are
estimated to be $20 million.

Dr. Bryce Kiberd, a staff nephrologist at the QE II Health
Sciences Centre, said that the transplant program is pleased with
the department's decision to fund this drug. The renal transplant
program at the QE II participated in early clinical trials with
Mycophenolate and were impressed with the performance of the

It is expected about 30 patients a year will receive
Mycophenolate on an outpatient basis. The province is the insurer
of last resort.

An evaluation will be prepared following the first full year of
funding to see what impact the drug has had, and if continued
funding is appropriate.


Contact: Lori MacLean  902-424-5025

trp                       Jan. 27, 1997 - 11:32 a.m.