Gateway Gazette

Eye Program Saves Millions, Expands Care Options

The government is expanding a pilot project that has made life better for more than 14,000 Albertans facing vision loss while saving millions of dollars.

Sarah Hoffman, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health with Dr. Amin Kherani and Rebecca Bailer at Calgary Retina Consultants clinic to announce the addition of a new drug to the RAPID program.

In October 2015, the province launched the Retina Anti-Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Program for Intraocular Disease (RAPID), in partnership with the Retina Society of Alberta. The pilot gave patients with retinal conditions like macular degeneration two different treatment options: Lucentis and Avastin. RAPID, which has saved more than $20 million in tax dollars by offering a wider range of medication options that provide the same clinical benefitis expanding to include Eylea, effective August 1, 2017.

“This government is working hard to protect and improve health care by listening to patients and clinicians and using evidence to guide its decisions. By partnering with retinal specialists, we are providing more Albertans with access to retinal eye care and more treatment options while saving millions of tax dollars at the same time.”

Sarah Hoffman, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health

“As a retinal specialist and partner in the RAPID program, I have seen the value of this initiative. These treatments help preserve and, in some cases, improve people’s vision, which has an impact on their quality of life. Now, through the program, there is an additional treatment option available to benefit Albertans.”

Dr. Amin Kherani

The RAPID program and prescription drugs are provided at no cost, so patients have no out-of-pocket co-payments for their treatments.

“I’m very, very pleased that government has decided to cover this drug. It’s a huge relief that it’s covered and that it’s taken care of now. I’m glad they understand the urgency and the importance of happiness and health. There’s also the cost benefit ratio – if you can prevent even one person from losing their eyesight, they can contribute to society.”

Rebecca Bailer, patient

No additional costs or savings are anticipated when Eylea is added to the RAPID program because initial estimates included the medication.

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