Minister reviews evidence in cancer drug denial

Evidence that led experts to deny a young mother an expensive breast cancer drug is being reviewed, Ontario’s health minister said Wednesday.

TORONTO — Evidence that led experts to deny a young mother an expensive breast cancer drug is being reviewed, Ontario’s health minister said Wednesday.

But Deb Matthews stressed she will not interfere in the decision to reject Jill Anzarut’s request for Herceptin, which costs about $40,000.

“I will not instruct (the Committee to Evaluate Drugs) what to do. I can’t do that,” Matthews told reporters.

“What I can do is educate myself on exactly what that evidence is as best as a layperson can do,” she added.

Anzarut, 35, a mother of two, was told she isn’t eligible for the drug because her tumour is considered too small.

Her tumour is a half-centimetre in diameter, but Ontario’s health insurance will only cover the drug for tumours larger than one centimetre.

Other provinces, including British Columbia and Saskatchewan, cover the drug for smaller tumours.

Christine Elliot, the Conservative health critic, said the government should investigate why other provinces are providing the drug to patients in Anzarut’s situation.