QUEEN’S PARK — NDP Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath is urging the province to cover 100 per cent of the cost of take-home cancer drugs some patients are struggling to afford after the COVID-19 pandemic put their in-hospital treatments on hold.

The NDP has long called for the province to make all take-home cancer drugs free, and this has only taken on increased urgency amid the pandemic.

Bhutila Karpoche, NDP MPP, said her office has been supporting patients who can’t afford the expensive medications they are being prescribed as COVID-19 forces their doctor to alter their treatment plan. Take-home cancer drugs are a modern option that may replace chemotherapy for some patients and can keep patients stabilized until hospitals are again able to perform surgeries. But they can cost more than $2,000 a month, and Karpoche says constituents in need haven’t qualified for any provincial drug plan help. 

“Getting a cancer diagnosis and going through treatment is hard enough as it is,” said Karpoche. “Having to change treatment due to COVID-19, and not knowing what that will mean for your prospects of recovery, is devastating.

“There are families across the province facing these situations, and the last thing anyone should have to worry about right now is whether they’ll be able to afford to pay for critical medications while hospital treatments are on hold.”

The Ontario NDP remains committed to pharmacare: a prescription drug plan that covers everyone. 

“Cancer patients deserve to be able to focus on getting better as they adjust to new treatment plans under COVID-19 protocols,” said Karpoche. “I am urging the province to immediately commit to covering the full cost of all take-home cancer drugs.”

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