News release

More Patients Have Access to Retina Disease Treatment

The province is expanding coverage for chronic retina disease treatment to two new groups of patients.

Effective Nov. 12, coverage for Lucentis and Avastin treatments will be available through Pharmacare for people living with diabetic macular edema and retinal vein occlusion. The treatment is already available to people living with wet age-related macular degeneration.

"Diseases that affect people's vision are devastating," said Leo Glavine, Minister of Health and Wellness. "Expanding coverage of this valuable treatment will help improve the quality of life of more Nova Scotians living with conditions that reduce their vision."

Diabetic macular edema causes fluid to leak into the eye, resulting in blindness. Retinal vein occlusion is caused by restricted blood supply to the eye, and may also lead to blindness.

"I am very pleased to get this great news that Lucentis will now be covered for these treatments," said Louise Gillis, national president for the Canadian Council of the Blind. "There are many people in the province that are susceptible to both these conditions, which can lead to major vision loss and hardships for the patient and their families. I want to thank the province for making this treatment possible for Nova Scotians."

The cost to expand these treatments is about $1 million and they will be available through hospital-based clinics and retinal specialists in Capital Health and Cape Breton District Health Authority. The province is working on expanding these treatments to other sites across Nova Scotia.

Patients must be members of the Seniors, Family or Community Services Pharmacare programs. Patients with private insurance will continue to receive coverage through that resource.

FOR BROADCAST USE:

The province is expanding coverage for chronic retina disease treatment to two new groups of patients.

Lucentis and Avastin treatments are now available through Pharmacare for people living with diabetic macular edema and retinal vein occlusion.

Health and Wellness Minister Leo Glavine says that expanding this treatment will help improve quality of life for Nova Scotians living with conditions that reduce their vision.

-30-

Media Contact:

Tony Kiritsis
Health and Wellness 902-424-0585 E-mail: