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MP Yurdiga urges Ottawa to approve vital CF treatment

Last Updated Jun 4, 2020 at 2:47 pm MDT

PHOTO. Supplied by the Office of David Yurdiga, MP of Fort McMurray - Cold Lake, Deputy Shadow Minister for Northern Affairs.

Fort McMurray-Cold Lake MP David Yurdiga urged the federal government to approve a healthcare drug meant to treat Cystic Fibrosis (CF).

Vertex Pharmaceuticals produces a drug called Trikafta, which treats the rare and often fatal genetic disease.

CF targets a person’s lungs and digestive system and affects about 4000 Canadians.

Trikafta is not commercially available in Canada.

Yurdiga said Trikafta represents the single biggest treatment of CF since 1938.

“Trikafta can improve the health of 90 per cent [of] CF patients by fighting the disease, and the symptoms. The drug approval was fast tracked in the United States and the UK, current pending approval in Europe.”

Yurdiga, who serves as Deputy Shadow Minister for Northern Affairs, addressed the letter to Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu.

Green Party leader Elizabeth May co-signed his letter.

Local connection

Yurdiga also stated the case of a young boy living in Fort McMurray living with CF named Cael Bunten.

Cael’s mother, Noelle, reached out to him about her 11-year-old son.

“Cael Bunten is an 11-year-old boy living in Fort McMurray, Alta.,” Said Yurdiga, “Like many kids his age, he enjoys going to school and playing video games with his friends.”

Yurdiga criticized the Liberal government adding time is short for young Canadians with CF like Cael.

More than 4000 Canadians currently live with CF.

“When it comes to life-saving drug access, this government is more focused on putting safe injection sites in prisons rather than saving the lives of cystic fibrosis patients. Why is recreational drug access for convicted criminals more important than drug access for children with cystic fibrosis, like Cael?”

He worries Trikafta will not be available due to changes to the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board.

“Between 2015 and 2018, 49 per cent of new drugs were approved in Canada either prior to or within a year of their approval in the United States. In 2019, the rate fell to just 15.6 per cent.”

He and MP Elizabeth May asked Minister Hajdu and Health Canada to fast track the approval of Trikafta for commercial use in Canada.