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).

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

North Cariboo Seniors’ Council gathering housing information through surveys

The housing demand and housing supply surveys are available online until Oct. 5.

Quesnel Culture Days takes “careful” approach

The Quesnel Art Walk kicks off Sept. 26

Business battling COVID-19 opens in downtown Quesnel

Shane Wright opened Evolve Gold and Gaming Lounge on Saturday, Sept. 19

PHOTOS: Quesnel car parade hopes to Take Back the Night

The annual march was turned into a car parade to help lower the risk of COVID-19

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

‘Unprecedented’ coalition demands end to B.C. salmon farms

First Nations, commercial fishermen among group calling for action on Cohen recommendations

Earthquake off coast of Washington recorded at 4.1 magnitude

The quake was recorded at a depth of 10 kilometres

B.C.’s top doctor says she’s received abuse, death threats during COVID-19 response

Henry has become a national figure during her time leading B.C.’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

BC Liberals must change gears from election cynicism, focus on the issues: UBC professors

COVID-19 response and recovery is likely to dominate platforms

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

Vancouver Island sailor stranded in U.S. hospital after suffering massive stroke at sea

Oak Bay man was attempting to circumnavigate the world solo

Majority needed to pass COVID-19 budget, B.C. premier says

John Horgan pushes urgent care centres in first campaign stop

Most Read