B.C. women cut off life-changing medication

Changes in health insurance coverage devastate Okanagan and Victoria women battling cystic fibrosis

As a result of swift and unexpected changes to their health insurance coverage, two Vernon residents have been left in a dire situation after learning their insurers have stopped covering the cost of Orkambi, a drug that has been proven to drastically improve the quality of life for people living with cystic fibrosis.

Currently, the Government of British Columbia does not cover the cost of Orkambi, despite it being approved by Health Canada and prescribed by doctors. This means that most people living with cystic fibrosis who could benefit from Orkambi are at the mercy of private insurance plans, and those without, are unable to afford it. Now, two women in the prime of their life face an uncertain future even though there is a medication available that can help them.

“Orkambi changed my life. I can do everyday things again: cook and prepare meals for my family, clean my own house, but most of all, my children have their mother back and my husband has the wife back that he was missing,” said Melissa Verleg, 34, a wife and mother of two from Vernon. “I am terrified of what will happen when I run out of Orkambi, as I only have enough to last me until Sept. 30. I don’t want to go back to being a spectator in life.”

Before Orkambi, Verleg struggled with such seemingly simple tasks and was even on life support in 2015 for six days when her lungs were no longer functioning. But since Orkambi her life has changed despite the rare genetic disease.

The same goes for Lilia Zaharieva.

“Because of Orkambi, for the first time in my life I can get through a day with energy, a smile, and fuller breath. It feels like someone has lifted a heavy load that I have been carrying all my life, and I wish this relief for everyone fighting Cystic Fibrosis in British Columbia,” said Zaharieva, 30, a student at the University of Victoria. “Since I have been on Orkambi, I have dared to plan for my future for the first time ever. It is not a cure, but now I have time to breathe. You can’t put a price on that.”

Cystic Fibrosis Canada strongly believes that it is in the best interest of the provincial government to ensure that their residents are healthy, allowing them to be active and productive members of the community.

Provincial health insurance covers a number of other costly drugs to the benefit of their residents and people with cystic fibrosis should be no exception.

CF Canada encourages the public to support Melissa (facebook.com/melissa.verleg) and Lilia (facebook.com/lzaharieva) by visiting their Facebook pages and sharing their story with B.C. Health Minister, Adrian Dix (facebook.com/adrian.dix1).

Just Posted

Kiosk designed to help residents, visitors of Parksville Qualicum Beach

Parksville chamber hopes this to be first of many

Site C dam goes ahead, cost estimate now up to $10.7 billion

Premier John Horgan says Christy Clark left him no other choice

Corfield Street construction starts in Parksville

Crews will avoid shopping centre disruptions during Christmas

Intersection cleared after two-car accident in downtown Parksville

Incident was at intersection of Highway 19A and Highway 4A

Police continue to seek missing Qualicum Beach woman

Oceanside RCMP requesting public assistance in locating Carmel Georgina Gilmour

Six-year-old boy needs $19,000 a month to treat rare form of arthritis

Mother of sick Sooke boy asks government to help fund treatments

Environmental groups slam NDP decision to continue with Site C

Construction industry, meanwhile, is cautiously optimistic about how the project will look

PHOTOS: Lights, Santa, magic!

Lots to see at Milner Christmas Magic in Qualicum Beach

Be ladder safe both at work and home

WorkSafeBC wants you to keep safe while hanging those Christmas lights this year

PHOTOS: Lasers make for wild nightscape at NIWRA

Event continues on various evenings until Dec. 23

B.C. overdose deaths surpass 1,200

96 people died of illicit drug overdoses in October

Most Read