Eye care treatment pilot being expanded

Alberta makes third treatment option available for eye conditions

A pilot project started nearly two years ago has been expanded.

The Alberta government, as of Aug. 1, is including a third treatment option as part of its Retina Anti-Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Program for Intraocular Disease (RAPID) program.

Launched as partnership with the Retina Society of Alberta in October of 2015, the program gave patients with conditions such as macular degeneration the option of going with Lucentis and Avastin as treatments.

With RAPID saving the government more than $20 million in that time frame, the province is expanding the program to include the treatment Eylea.

“This government is working hard to protect and improve health care by listening to patients and clinicians and using evidence to guide its decisions,” said Sarah Hoffman, Minister of Health and Deputy Premier, in a release.

”By partnering with retinal specialists, we are providing more Albertans with access to retinal eye care and more treatment options while saving millions of tax dollars at the same time.”

Retinal specialist Dr. Amin Kherani, who is also a RAPID partner, has seen first-hand the value of the program.

“These treatments help preserve and, in some cases, improve people’s vision, which has an impact on their quality of life. Now, through the program, there is an additional treatment option available to benefit Albertans,” he added.

The program and prescription drugs are provided at no cost, so patients have no out-of-pocket co-payments for their treatments.

No additional costs or savings are anticipated when Eylea is added to the RAPID program because initial estimates included the medication.