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B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix speaks during a news conference in Vancouver, on March 14, 2020.

The Canadian Press

British Columbia’s Health Ministry has negotiated an agreement with a manufacturer to allow for coverage of a drug used to slow the symptoms of ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

About 480 people in B.C. have been diagnosed with the fatal disease where patients typically become unable to move, speak, swallow and breathe as the condition becomes worse.

A statement from the ministry says negotiations between the drug maker, Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corp., and the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance meet B.C.‘s cost mandate of about $120,000 per patient each year.

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Health Canada approved the use of the drug Radicava, also know as edaravone, in 2018 for the treatment of ALS, the first therapy to be approved for the disease in 20 years.

The ministry says it is expected that between 66 and 183 patients will benefit from the coverage in the first year.

The ALS Society in B.C. has raised $1-million to further support patients with the disease and the B.C. government has matched the funds.

The $2-million will be used over the next five years to develop a centre in Vancouver that will serve patients and offer provincewide support through mobile clinics.

“The work of the ALS Society of B.C. helps provide care to patients, supports clinical trials and research,” says Health Minister Adrian Dix in the statement. “This organization has done extraordinary things to enable patients to participate in their care, prolong survival, and improve well-being, and we are happy to support them in that great work.”

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