A Timmins man with Hepatitis C says the only drug that can save him may take months to get and cost thousands of dollars.
Bill Desloges said there’s no guarantee the province will cover it, and is now turning to an online fundraising campaign for help.
Desloges, 59, said he went numb when found out his Hepatitis C had taken a turn for the worst.
Hepatitis C is a chronic viral liver disease, and Desloges was diagnosed about 12 years ago. He went on treatment, but it didn’t work.
He recently went for testing in Sudbury and found out he was in stage four, the final stage of the disease.
Desloges said his only hope for a cure is to get a new drug on the market called Harvoni, a pill he’d have to take each day for 24 weeks, at a cost of upwards of $140,000.
“I just don’t understand why [or] how a medication could be so expensive,” he said.
Desloges said he could start paying for a few of the pills, but said he has to buy the entire treatment plan at once or else the drugs are ineffective.
He applied for re-imbursement from the province, but there’s no guarantee how much he’ll get.
His doctor, Kim Tilbe predicts it will take months before Desloges finds out if he’ll get the funding.
Tilbe said more than 600 applications for the drug have been made in the province, including 50 in Sudbury.
“I think that the same frustrations that their patients have, physicians who have to do all the paperwork have the same concerns,” he said.
In an e-mail to the CBC, the Ministry of Health said the current turnaround time to review rush drug requests is about 21 business days. The ministry added it recognizes that a 21-business day turnaround is not acceptable, and has several business improvement initiatives underway.
It added the state of a patient is taken into account when the request is being reviewed.
Tilbe said so far, one of his patients, the first in the province, has had the drug approved to be paid for.
But Desloges said he and his family can’t wait any longer.
His niece, Paige Desloges Baril, has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise the money that’s needed for his treatment.
“I was lost for words,” Desloges said, when he found out the campaign had been set up.
“I didn’t expect it. I just came out of left field. She’s such a great person.”
Desloges added the online fundraiser has prompted other acts of kindness in the community to support him, including fundraisers and raffle tickets being sold to help.
“The support is just amazing,” he said.
“I know in my heart that if I don’t get it, they’ve tried. That’s all I’m asking, that people try.”
CBC.ca | Nael Shiab