Local woman with cystic fibrosis receives new lease on life from drug manufacturer

A University of Victoria student with cystic fibrosis has a new lease on life, for now.  Lillia Zaharieva has been granted compassionate access for a life-saving drug from the drug's manufacturer. 

The young woman took her campaign public last September, after a university medical insurance plan cut off her access to Orkambi, made by Vertex Pharmaceuticals. The drug is costly, with a price tag of $250,000 for a year's supply.

Zaharieva was unsuccessful in her bid to have the drug covered by BC's Ministry of Health.  However, just recently, she received word from Vertex that the company would provide compassionate access to the drug.

"I do fit some of the medical criteria, which is under  40 per cent lung function for compassionate use, but we do believe this does indicate an incremental policy change from that drug company to accommodate this."

Zaharieva knows it is only a temporary fix, and is hoping the BC Ministry of Health moves to provide access to the drug.  She says Quebec currently provides coverage of Orkambi, and she is hopeful BC will do the same.

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