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Opposition NDP urges Alberta government not to switch drugs for some patients – Airdrie Today

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EDMONTON — Alberta’s Opposition is urging the province not to force patients on certain drugs for rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and Crohn’s disease to switch medications.

NDP health critic David Shepherd says it’s the best, safest way to make sure they don’t suffer crippling complications or setbacks.

“I understand the fear and uncertainty is real, that’s there’s a real risk for some of these folks of returning to be sick and incapacitated,” Shepherd told a news conference Wednesday as some patients stood behind him.

“The health minister has botched this process. I think he knows it.”

Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced a month ago that 26,000 patients already getting provincially funded biologic drugs would gradually be switched to biosimilar ones.

Biologics are complex drugs derived from living cells. Biosimilars mimic the original drugs but are based on expired patents and can be delivered at less cost.

The government notes Health Canada has signed off on switching to biosimilars as safe and effective, and that similar policies are in place in the United Kingdom, Poland, Norway and Austria.

Shandro has said Alberta is also following the lead of British Columbia and Manitoba and expects the move to save up to $380 million over the next four years. Added savings are expected as more biosimilar drugs come on the market.

Crohn’s and Colitis Canada has said the switch could lead to adverse reactions in some patients. Some of the people with Shepherd on Wednesday expressed the same worry.

Wilma Ritter, diagnosed at age four with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, said the biologic drug Remicade has allowed her to avoid a life of dependency.

“Now I can walk. I work. I live independently without any supports. Now I pay income tax instead of getting the government to give me money to live,” she said.

“Being forced to stop using Remicade is putting my stability as a person with an autoimmune disorder at risk.

“Switching to a biosimilar will not work for everyone. And there is also no way to predict who it will work for and who it will not.”

Shepherd said the government is wrong to make the change mandatory for existing patients.

“It’s important to introduce biosimilars (to new patients),” he said. “I recognize that there are indeed costs that we need to reckon with and I think it’s reasonable for government to move forward.

“My disagreement is with the manner in which it is moving forward … chaotic, rushed, not thought through, not considering long-term potential consequences.”

Shandro, in a statement, said that keeping existing patients on biologics is unnecessary and ultimately self-defeating.

“There is no scientific evidence that switching to biosimilars puts patients at added risk; there is overwhelming evidence that biosimilars are clinically equivalent to biologics,” he said.

“‘Grandfathering patients currently on biologics would cancel almost all the savings we’re projecting …. Those savings are all to be reinvested in the health system.”

The plan is to have the 26,000 patients switched over by July 1. The change will not affect patients on private drug plans or those paying out of pocket. It is not to apply to pregnant women or children.

Patients will be able to apply for medical exemptions, which could be granted following a review by doctors, to prevent a switch.

The province says its spending on biologics has been soaring over the last five years. It says the cost has been growing an average of 16 per cent a year and reached $238 million in 2018-19.

It says that biologics represent almost one-fifth of the government’s total spending on drugs provided to fewer than two per cent of patients.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2020

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

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Quebec reports 698 new COVID-19 cases, seven more deaths – Wiarton Echo

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That’s the highest single-day count since May 21.

Quebec has recorded 698 new cases of COVID-19 — the highest single-day count since May 21 — bringing the province’s total to 71,005 as of Saturday.

Seven new deaths have been reported, all of which occurred between Sept. 19 and 24. The province’s death toll now stands at 5,821.

The number of hospitalizations increased by 18, for a total of 217. Of those, 33 were in intensive care.

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19 new coronavirus cases reported in Saskatchewan, hits single-day testing record – Global News

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Winnipeg police say a woman has died and several other people have been injured in a collision involving a vehicle that was fleeing police.

The crash happened at about 1:30 p.m. Saturday in the area of Salter Street and Boyd Avenue, police said in a statement.

According to police, officers tried to pull over a vehicle for a traffic stop but the driver “took off at a high rate of speed.”

Read more:
Vehicle-pedestrian collision on Portage Ave. leaves one person in critical condition

Seconds later, the vehicle hit another car in the nearby intersection of Andrews Street and Boyd Avenue.

Four people in the vehicle that was struck — including an infant and a child — were sent to hospital.  A woman who was in that vehicle has died from her injuries, police said.

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Two people from the vehicle that had fled police were also transported to hospital.






0:24
No injuries reported after school bus crashes into hydro pole in downtown Winnipeg


No injuries reported after school bus crashes into hydro pole in downtown Winnipeg

The Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba, which investigates serious incidents involving police, has been called to investigate.

In a press conference Saturday evening, Winnipeg Police Const. Rob Carver said that almost everyone in the collision was in either serious or critical condition.

“Incredibly tragic, we’ve got an infant in the vehicle, a child in the vehicle, a woman who was killed in this crash, tragic all around,” said Carver, who also stressed that the incident was not a result of a police pursuit.

A photo of the crash scene near Salter Street and Boyd Avenue.


A photo of the crash scene near Salter Street and Boyd Avenue.


Global News

“We pulled up, we attempted to have this vehicle spoken to, and the vehicle fled. We did not pursue it.”

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For the two people in the fleeing vehicle, Carver said he does not have an idea on their injuries, but that they will at some point be taken into custody “when their medical condition allows for that.”

“In the space of less than half a minute … what started out as a routine incident ended up with multiple people in the hospital and a woman killed, and these people were not connected at all.”

— With files from Global News’ David Lao

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Possible COVID-19 exposure at three Saskatoon businesses: SHA – CTV News Saskatoon

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SASKATOON —
The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is warning of a possible COVID-19 exposure at three Saskatoon businesses in the last week. 

The SHA said a person or persons attended the following locations while likely infectious:

• Sept. 19 – Walmart Supercentre at 225 Betts Ave. in Saskatoon from 4 to 6 p.m.

• Sept. 22 – Planet Fitness at Market Mall on 2325 Preston Ave. S in Saskatoon from 4 to 6 p.m.

• Sept. 23 – KFC at 1808 McOrmond Drive in Saskatoon from 5 to 10 p.m.

The SHA is advising anyone who was at these locations on the specified dates and times to self monitor for 14 days or immediately self isolate and call HealthLine 811 if they develop symptoms of COVID-19. 

People may develop symptoms between two and 14 days after getting exposed to the virus, according to the SHA.

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