Manitoba couple could pay extra $1,500 a month for medication after funding changes – Manitoba

A Winnipeg couple in their 70s are worried they will have to dip into their savings to pay for medication following an upcoming change in how Manitoba Health covers the preparation of some prescription medications.

George Shallcross, 74, has end-stage Parkinson’s disease and takes medication 25 times a day.

“Right now it’s all free — it’s totally free,” said George’s wife, Susan Shallcross.

However, that will change on Aug. 18, when a cap on pharmacy dispensing fees for provincial drug programs comes into effect — a change Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen said in a statement is expected to save about $11 million a year.

George can no longer swallow or talk because of the pain from his illness. All of the medication he takes to manage that pain is compounded — a pharmaceutical term for altering a medication to meet a user’s needs. In George’s case, that means liquefying the medication and putting it into a syringe. He then injects the medication into the feeding tube in his stomach.

Susan said it’s the process of turning his medication into liquid and filling the syringes that will soon cost extra.

“I thought this program was bulletproof,” she said.

Susan Shallcross is afraid she and her husband, George, will have to dig into their savings to pay for his medications. (CBC)

The couple received a letter from their pharmacy informing them the cost of filling the syringes will no longer be covered by Manitoba Health. The process of compounding the medication will only be covered up to a certain amount.

With George taking 175 syringes a week, his pharmacist estimates the change will cost the couple $1,200 to $1,500 a month. 

“They’re robbing Peter to pay Paul here. It just doesn’t make sense,” Susan said. “Half of the time, the people who make these decisions, they haven’t even asked patients what they want, what they need.”

Her husband lives at home and not in a palliative care unit because, for the most part, he can…

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