Cancer Care Ontario's New Drug Funding Program: controlled introduction of expensive anticancer drugs.
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In the mid 1990s, the high cost and increasing number of new anticancer and supportive care drugs began to result in an inequality of access to promising new treatment approaches in the Province of Ontario. Starting with a single drug, paclitaxel, in 1995, the New Drug Funding Program has evolved to a provincial program that enables cancer patients in Canada's most populous province to equitably access new and expensive, intravenously administered drugs. This article describes the development of the program, including the evolution of the administrative mechanisms necessary to manage the program and the decisions of the Policy Advisory Committee that shape provincial funding policies. In fiscal year 2000/2001, the Program made 14 drugs available for 24 indications for a total provincial expenditure of approximately $37.7 million. These intravenous drugs can now be accessed through nine Regional Cancer Centres, the province's only cancer hospital (Princess Margaret Hospital) and 80 community hospitals and will directly benefit more than 8,700 patients.
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