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Ontario health yields to pressure and okays list of life-saving drugs. (Health).

TORONTO -- All HIV positive babies born in Ontario on or after January 1, 2002, will be vaccinated against varicella (chicken pox), meningitis and pneumococcal disease, Health and Long-Term Care Minister Tony Clement announced.

The announcement came the day after of a number prominent physicians and disease groups castigasted the Ontario government "for withholding life saving medicines from some of the province's sickest and most vulnerable patients." The list included vaccines for the approximately 110 HIV positive children who live in Ontario.

The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care also agreed to work collaboratively with the groups to improve access to the drugs listed in the January 30th media materials. The list includes VIDEX EC, alendronate, valacyclovir, famciclovir, kineret and pegetron.

The provincial governement this initiative con the federal government to "follow our lead to formulate a national immunization program to protect all children."

The cost to start up the Ontario program is estimated at $200,000, with an annual investment of $100,000, according Dr. Stall Read, Head of Infectious Diseases, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto and member, Ontario Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS.

The groups also urged the Federal Government to ensure accountability before transferring new funding to the Ontario Government.

"While the groups (listedbelow) welcome the Minister's prompt response to the groups' intervention on the vaccines issue, they are watching the progress with regard to the other treatment access matters carefully. They trust that there will be an expeditious response to these issues since many patients are anxiously waiting for access to these much needed medicines. Toronto HIV Primary Care Physicians Group; Canadian Treatment Action Council, Hemophilia Ontario, Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada; Hepatitis C Society of Canada, Arthritis Consumer Experts; Voices of Positive Women. 416-410-6538
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Publication:Community Action
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Feb 17, 2003
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