‘Like letting me die’: RAMQ refuses to pay for new treatment in Calgary

‘Like letting me die’: RAMQ refuses to pay for new treatment in Calgary

A young mother From Abitibi Suffering from a rare form of cancer, she sees her hopes of survival disappear because Quebec refuses to fund the hospitalization costs associated with the treatment offered in Calgary, which would also benefit other Quebecers.

“I really believed it. I told myself that I was going to pass, but there, it’s like they let me die”, breathes Stephanie Allin at the end of the tearful line.

A year ago, a 31-year-old woman from Rouen-Noranda was diagnosed with alveolar sarcoma, which starts in the soft tissues and attacks the muscles before spreading, and for which there is no treatment in Quebec.

At the end of the operation, if the tumor is found in the thigh, Mme Alain still has metastases in his lungs.

His only real hope of recovery was participation in a clinical trial in Calgary.

Stephanie Allen

Presented by Stephanie Alain

Mme Alain would be the first Quebec patient to benefit from the new treatment for sarcomas, but it has already been proven for other types of cancer, said his doctor, Dr.R Rami Saleh.

“The Regie de l’Assurance Malady du Quebec is very annoying [RAMQ] Say no. I have no other treatment for her. Options, I don’t have any,” laments the oncologist at McGill University Health Center (MUHC).

“It will be a while before the study comes to Quebec, but my patient can’t wait a year or a year and a half,” he points out.

However, this treatment is approved by Health Canada and funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. RAMQ should only fund relevant fixed hospital costs.

“It’s tough. I was really confident and ready to go. Time, I don’t have that much left,” laments Mme Alain is the mother of a four-and-a-half-year-old boy.

Harm to other patients

A team of doctors at the MUHC lamented that RAMQ’s result could have an impact on other patients with alveolar sarcoma who may benefit from the same treatment.

Rare, alveolar sarcoma is always in an advanced way, in very young patients, Dr.R Robert Turcotte, orthopedic surgeon and director of the sarcoma program.

“I don’t understand. The government doesn’t even have to pay for experimental treatment, we’re talking about hospitalization costs, which are not much. I think it’s wrong to close the door to treatments that are known to be effective for other cancers,” he says.

RAMQ declined to comment.

Alveolar sarcoma

  • A soft tissue tumor that often starts in the legs;
  • It mostly affects young people, girls more than boys;
  • It slowly grows and spreads to the lungs, brain or bones.

Source: Canadian Cancer Society

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