Saskatchewan expands coverage for cystic fibrosis drug Trikafta

Kayle Neis/Regina Leader-Post. Everett Hindley, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Seniors and Rural and Remote Health, speaks to the press after session at the Saskatchewan Legislative Building on Wednesday, March 9, 2022 in Regina.

“We celebrate this news alongside our cystic fibrosis community in Saskatchewan, who has worked tirelessly for this day,” Kelly Grover said.

Trillian Reynoldson, Regina Leader-Post

A medication designed to correct the underlying cause of cystic fibrosis (CF) will soon be covered by the provincial government for children two to five years of age.

According to Cystic Fibrosis Canada, Trikafta — a CF transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) modulator therapy, made to correct the malfunctioning protein made by the CFTR gene — has the potential to treat 90 per cent of Canadians with the condition.

“While not a cure, starting young children with cystic fibrosis on modulator therapy as early as possible could protect their health and prevent significant structural lung damage from occurring,” Cystic Fibrosis Canada President and CEO Kelly Grover said in a government news release issued Tuesday. 

“We celebrate this news alongside our cystic fibrosis community in Saskatchewan, who has worked tirelessly for this day.”

CF is the most common fatal genetic disease affecting Canadian children and young adults, according to Cystic Fibrosis Canada. The condition has various effects on the body, but mainly impacts the lungs and digestive system.

The Canadian CF Registry shows more than 4,300 Canadians have the condition. Approximately 125 patients live in Saskatchewan, with 90 people already benefiting from Trikafta coverage.

Approximately five more children will become eligible for the treatment in the first year of the expanded criteria, the release said.

Health Canada approved the medication in June 2021 for patients ages 12 and up with the most common type of the disease and the Saskatchewan began covering the cost for those patents in October 2021.

The province then expanded coverage for patients ages six to 12 in August 2022.

The Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health recommended jurisdictions expand coverage of Trikafta for patients two to five years who meet certain medical criteria in December 2023.

Successful pricing negotiations were recently completed through the Pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance, and coverage will be expanded in Saskatchewan on Thursday, Feb. 1.

“Saskatchewan was one of the first provinces to fund Trikafta for both the six years and older and 12 years and older age groups, and today has continued to recognize the treatment’s transformative value by expanding coverage to include children ages two to five years old,” Grover said in the release.

Health Minister Everett Hindley said the province is pleased to expand coverage for the treatment.

“Trikafta has been shown to improve quality of life in patients living with cystic fibrosis, so this expanded coverage means more children with CF can benefit and lead healthier lives,” he said. 

Patients, or parents or guardians of children with the condition who think they might benefit from the medication are encouraged to talk with their physician.

— With files from Lynn Giesbrecht