Paul Chung, a 21-year-old university student from Langley, BC, is sueing the government of British Columbia because they delayed providing an expensive drug that, he believes, would have saved him from permanent disablement.
Chung says that the Ministry of Health only provided him with coverage for the $750,000-a-year drug, Soliris, after a very public lobbying campaign. He further claims that the Ministry will only do so for others in specific cases.
Too Little, Too Late
According to Chung, he was not permitted Soliris when he was first diagnosed with atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS).
“AHUS is a rare condition that affects only one in a million people and fewer than 150 Canadians. The disease causes too many blood clots to form in the blood vessels, blocking regular blood flow to the kidneys.”
He states his charter rights of security of person, life, and liberty were breached by an ‘arbitrary’ decision to require him to rely on kidney dialysis indefinitely, leaving him incapable of attending school or work.
According to Chung’s civil claim, “‘This decision was too little, too late… as Soliris must be administered promptly after diagnosis to be effective.’”
In August 2017, Chung’s lawsuit stated that he was admitted to Langley Memorial Hospital in acute renal failure. Chung says he was then taken to St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, where staff inquired if he possessed the proper private health insurance to cover the cost of Soliris. Unfortunately, he did not and was unable to afford the drug by himself.
In May 2015, according to his civil claim, a Canadian drug expert committee met to decide the fate of patients like Chung and agreed that taking Soliris would be advantageous to their treatment. He further claimed that while other provinces approved coverage of the drug, BC did not.
Dix stated that the province decided this after going over the policies in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan, where coverage is given in ‘exceptional cases.’
Although Chung claims that he was pre-approved for three months of Soliris in December 2017, he states he was also informed that his kidneys must improve to a point where dialysis was not necessary in order to be eligible for further coverage.
As a result, in February 2018 his coverage was terminated. According to his GoFundMe page, Chung’s blood results are stable and he is no longer facing life-threatening risks, however, the recovery of his kidney will not be as effective because the organ is already scarred.
Chung is suing the province of British Columbia for damages, including loss of income and cost of care.