Expansion of drug eligibility for people with cystic fibrosis

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More people in B.C. living with cystic fibrosis will be eligible for a medication called Trikafta, as eligibility criteria will be expanded on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022, based on a recommendation from the Canadian Drug Expert Committee (CDEC).

“Living with cystic fibrosis is a daily struggle for both patients and their families,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “Expanding access to Trikafta for children aged six to 11 provides an additional treatment option for the hundreds of people living with cystic fibrosis in B.C.”

When the drug was first listed in September 2021, patients needed to be 12 years old or older and have a forced expiratory volume (FEV) less than 90%. The CDEC has now issued a new recommendation for expanded eligibility criteria which includes children aged six to 11 years and those aged 12 or older with a FEV more than 90%.

The expansion is in line with Trikafta eligibility in other provinces.

“Today’s news will change the trajectory of the disease and the future for many children and adults in British Columbia who live with cystic fibrosis,” said Kelly Grover, president and CEO, Cystic Fibrosis Canada. “Last year, British Columbia funded the drug for those 12 and older, and has continued to recognize Trikafta’s extraordinary, transformative value by expanding coverage of Trikafta to include children aged six to 11 years old. We are pleased to see that the restrictive start criterion around lung function has also been removed, enabling more people to access the drug. We celebrate this news alongside our cystic fibrosis community in British Columbia, who has worked tirelessly for this day that has finally come.”

Trikafta is a triple-combination medication of ivacaftor, tezacaftor and elexacaftor, used for the treatment of cystic fibrosis in patients who have at least one F508del mutation. It has shown to improve lung function and quality of life as well as reduce the frequency of lung attacks.

The drug is covered through the B.C. Expensive Drugs for Rare Diseases (EDRD) process, which allows patients to access high-cost drugs for rare conditions on a case-by-case basis. Currently, approximately 150 people in B.C. benefit from Trikafta PharmaCare coverage. An estimated 185 more people are expected to become eligible with the expanded criteria.

Cystic fibrosis, which affects approximately 500 people in B.C., is a genetic disease that largely affects a person’s lungs, but also the pancreas, liver, kidneys and intestine. Long-term challenges can include respiratory difficulties and complications, including frequent lung exacerbations.