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Advances in Cystic Fibrosis have been major and reflect in part the work of Canadian scientists and clinicians

 On Monday May 16, I spoke in response to a Ministerial statement on Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month.  My comments (from Hansard) are below. 

Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month

Mr. Gerrard: Madam Speaker, cystic fibrosis month offers a chance to celebrate advances in treatment over the last several decades.

      First, I pay tribute to the team of pediatricians and internists who are looking after children and adults with cystic fibrosis in Manitoba. They have done an excellent job. This is an area where Canada's medicare system has shown superiority to care in the United States. A careful study of individuals with cystic fibrosis in 2009 to 2013 found that the mean lifespan of a person with cystic fibrosis in Canada is 10 years longer than in the United States.

      Second, con­tri­bu­tions of Canadian research have been extraordinary. In 1989, the cystic fibrosis gene was discovered by Lap-Chee Tsui and his team at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. The identifica­tion of the transmembrane conductance regulator or CFTR gene was seminal in leading to effective treat­ments for cystic fibrosis, including TRIKAFTA. In 2006, Lap-Chee Tsui was named one of the 10 giants of science. In 2012, he was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame.

      The CFTR protein is important for transferring chlo­ride across cell membranes. Though there are varied genetic defects in the CFTR protein, the most common is in the ability of the protein to move from where it is produced in the endoplasmic reticulum to the outer cell membrane. The drug TRIKAFTA con­tains three components; two of these help the CFTR protein get to the cell surface and the third augments its action.

      Though it doesn't improve individuals with all defects in the CFTR protein, TRIKAFTA, now ap­proved for use in Canada and covered in Manitoba, has the potential to reduce severe disease in individ­uals with cystic fibrosis by 60 per cent. It's a major step forward on one of the big advances in medicine in the last 40 years. It's an example of how individuals with diseases been–based on genetic defects can be helped and over time, may inspire treatments for many other con­di­tions, as well.

      Thank you. Merci. Miigwech.

I followed this Member's Statement up on May 27th in Estimates when I asked the Minister to implement as soon as possible the approved use of TRIKAFTA for 6 to 11 years olds with cystic fibrosis. 

Mr. Gerrard: Now, my next question deals with TRIKAFTA. Health Canada has approved it now for cystic fibrosis for ages six to 11. The Canadian agency for drugs and tech­no­lo­gies in Canada, CADTH, has approved it.

      I'm hopeful that the minister will see if it can be approved quickly in Manitoba for children with cystic fibrosis ages six to 11.

Ms. Gordon: I thank the member for River Heights for the question.

      I was pleased last fall to announce the listing of TRIKAFTA on the prov­incial formulary. And when we first listed it back in the fall, we did it con­sistent with the expert advice of CADTH.

      So, based on the infor­ma­tion the member has shared, I will certainly take that back to the depart­ment and our Pharma­care branch and–because we always want to review evolving recom­men­dations. So, I can't give a firm answer as to the direction we'll be taking, but I can say that we will review the evolving recom­men­dation that the member has shared today.

      Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.



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