Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Does U.S. educated reporter hate Canadian health care system?

The headline screams "Crohn's research at Robarts hits world stage." Is the headline true? Yes. Is it the whole story? Not by a long shot.

Dr. Brian Feagan is the director of Robarts Clinical Trials at the Robarts Research Institute in London, Ontario. Last year Feagan was among those awarded the 2013 Scientific Achievement Award by the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA). Feagan has long been known for, as they say, pushing the needle forward in the quest for cures to these diseases.

The man is amazing. A quick Google search shows he has been at the forefront of inflammatory bowel disease research since late in the last century at least. His latest work is, not surprisingly, a continuation and a validation of research which has attracted global interest for years. He is a longtime player on the world health care stage.

Londoners should be proud of medical scientists like Feagan and proud of the work being done at the Robarts Research Institute. Researchers like Feagan and their studies are among the reasons I have the institute on my short list for an annual charitable donation. Because of the work done there, I am increasing my donation this year.

If you have been reading the series of articles run by The London Free Press and carried by Sun Media across the chain, you would think that Canadians are receiving second rate health care when compared to what is available south of the border in the States. The story tells readers "many provinces won't pay" for an aggressive approach for treating Crohn's disease.

A quick Google search turned up this online post by a woman in Salt Lake City, Utah:

In November, my new gastroenterologist . . . started me on Humira. It's a biological medication to decrease inflammation that has been successful to treat some people's Crohn's disease. . . .

The insurance denied the claim when the the pharmacy tried to get payment, because after a couple of refills at a local pharmacy, it's only covered when it comes from a "specialty pharmacy," called Acredo. After three hours either talking with people at Acredo, the specialty pharmacy, or having my doctor's office or the University pharmacy techs talk with people at Acredo and the insurance company, I left without the medication.

The patient ended her tirade saying, "Sigh. I wish private enterprise wouldn't get between patients and treatment"

Yes, some provinces resist paying for aggressive and expensive treatments for Crohn's disease as the first line approach -- but so do many private insurance plans around the globe. These are often plans that the patients thought were excellent until they were denied coverage for a drug like Humira.

I will leave the last word to Beth, the lady with Crohn's disease that I quoted out of Salt Lake City.

"I shouldn't be surprised [at the denial of coverage], since Anthem Blue Cross is beholden to stockholders before patients. Private business, in my opinion, is NOT always the best way to get things done, especially when it comes to health issues."

The Free Press article wasn't wrong. It wasn't error filled. But it wasn't balanced either.

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