Province expands coverage for 6 hepatitis C drugs

Sask. doctor concerned about 'shockingly low' number of hepatitis C patients being treated

Saskatchewan will soon be paying for six new drugs targeted at people who suffer from hepatitis C.

The drugs have a 95 per cent success rate and can cure patients in as little as eight to 12 weeks.

"These new medications offer a much better chance of curing hepatitis C, and vastly improve patients' quality of life," said Health Minister Jim Reiter in a news release.  

The drugs are being bought through the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance, a group of drug programs run by provinces across the country. The group negotiates with drug companies to use their collective buying power to get better prices.

Right now, the drugs in question are only available for patients with advanced hepatitis C. After the change, patients with less severe cases of the disease will also be given access to the drug.

Saskatchewan estimates about 12,000 patients across the province have the disease. Hepatitis C is a viral disease that affects the liver. It's normally transmitted through contact with the blood of an infected person, and can cause liver scarring and liver cancer.