Thursday, February 6, 2014


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Province Lowering Cost for Families
Dealing with Chronic Conditions:  Minister Selby

Manitoba's pharmacare program has been expanded and enhanced, providing more affordability for families dealing with a number of health issues, Health Minister Erin Selby said today.

An additional 227 new drugs have been added to treat illnesses and chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma, arthritis and blood clots.

"We're making it more affordable for families to get the medication they need to treat their conditions and live their lives to the fullest," said Minister Selby.  "We don't want the barrier of medication costs to affect families and we know these new additions will make a real difference for many families." 

Some of the new drugs added to the formulary include:

* the Asmanex Twisthaler for the treatment of asthma,

* a new brand of Heparin for the preventative treatment of blood clots,

* the NovoRapid FlexTouch for the treatment of diabetes,

* Seebri for the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,

* Zenhale for the treatment of asthma,

* Humira for the treatment of a specific type of juvenile arthritis, and

* Rituxan for the treatment of specific types of blood vessel inflammation.

Of the 227 drugs added, 212 are generic medications.  The minister noted these additions are expected to save Manitoba families $4.5 million next year.  Coverage for the new drugs began on Jan. 23.

Pharmacare is a universal, comprehensive prescription drug program for any Manitoban with benefits based on family income.  It covers 100 per cent of eligible drug costs once the income-based deductible is reached, regardless of medical condition or age.

Over the last 12 years, approximately 3,500 new drugs including those that treat influenza, reduce the risk of heart attack, treat severe eczema and for the treatment of HIV have been added to Manitoba's world-class pharmacare program. 

For more information on pharmacare, visit

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


New Colon Cancer, Lynch Syndrome Testing Available to Patients:  Minister Selby

New testing procedures to help identify patients at a greater risk for inherited colon and other types of cancers are now in place including testing for Lynch syndrome, a disorder that significantly increases the risk of developing cancer, Health Minister Erin Selby announced today.

"Identifying the risks for cancer is critical to providing the most appropriate care possible to the patient and at-risk relatives, and we're pleased to offer this screening in our province," Minister Selby.  "This testing will give patients, their families and their physicians the information they need to make informed decisions about treatment options, risk factors and a lifetime care plan."

All colorectal cancer surgery patients aged 70 years and under will receive testing for Lynch syndrome.  As a result of this testing, patients will have access to increased cancer surveillance which could lead to earlier detection and improved cancer survival rates.

Immediate family members of affected patients will also benefit from this new testing, as it will help to identify their risk of developing cancers and allow them to consider early detection and prevention measures, the minister said.  Manitoba's cancer strategy highlights the importance of genetic testing in early diagnosis as this type of screening can help oncologists tailor treatment for patients to provide the most effective form of chemotherapy, she added.

"No one wants to find out they have cancer or that an inherited genetic mutation caused it.  Worse still is seeing the cancer connection in your family but not knowing what it is," said Megan Tucker, who is living with Lynch syndrome.  "To be able to do the test right here in Manitoba is a wonderful step.  Testing followed by routine screening for the cancers allows me to be active in monitoring and managing my cancer risk and increases the overall chances of extending my life."

Diagnostic Services Manitoba (DSM), the organization responsible for Manitoba's public laboratory and rural diagnostic imaging services, is now offering these new tests.  Genetic testing for breast cancer is also available and further expansion of genetic screening for other forms of cancer, such as melanomas and lung cancer, is being explored, Minister Selby said.

"We have a commitment to provide the results that matter to our patients, and the topic of inherited colon cancer and Lynch syndrome testing has been an emerging issue for the past several years," said Jim Slater, chief executive officer of Diagnostic Services Manitoba.  "We understand how the local availability of this important genetic testing will help to save lives through earlier diagnosis, monitoring and treatment, and we are pleased to offer this testing right here in Manitoba in partnership with CancerCare Manitoba and the province."

Patients who have inherited the Lynch syndrome gene have up to a 60 per cent risk of developing colorectal cancer at some point over the course of their life.  Women with Lynch syndrome have up to a 60 per cent risk of developing endometrial cancer over the course of their life.

"With financial support from the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation, this unique joint effort enables genetic testing that can be life-saving," said Dr. Sri Navaratnam, president and chief executive officer of CancerCare Manitoba.  "Detection of colon cancer at its earliest stage means a 90 per cent survival rate and Lynch syndrome testing is one more tool in our arsenal against this deadly form of cancer."

The minister noted this investment builds on the province's commitment to shorten the cancer patient journey.  The $40-million IN SIXTY initiative strives to expedite cancer testing and treatment for patients when cancer is first suspected to help get patients the most appropriate care as quickly as possible.  The province also now provides costly cancer medication free to patients to help alleviate the burden of this disease on families. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014


Thousands of Devices Now Registered across Province To Provide Help in Health Crises:  Minister Selby

Starting tomorrow, defibrillators are required by law in designated public buildings in Manitoba to ensure the life‑saving equipment is available to people in times of critical need, Health Minister Erin Selby said today.

"A cardiac arrest can occur anywhere at any time.  Having a defibrillator close by can save someone's life and this new legislation ensures busy public places will have one ready in case of an emergency," said Minister Selby.  "Other jurisdictions across Canada and internationally are looking to replicate our legislation and I'm proud our province is considered to be a leader in this initiative."

Manitoba was the first province in the country to develop legislation requiring public places to have an automated external defibrillator (AED) available on site.  Under the Defibrillator Public Access Act, designated facilities include several types of high-traffic public places where cardiac arrest is more likely to occur such as gyms, indoor arenas, certain community centres, golf courses, schools and airports.

"In November 2009, I suffered a massive heart attack on the ice while refereeing a minor hockey game.  There is little doubt in my mind that if there had not been an AED and people unafraid to get in there and assist me through CPR, I would not be here today," said Chief Perry Batchelor, Altona Police Service.  "This is a tremendous piece of legislation which will no doubt save lives."

To make it easier for non-profit and community-owned public facilities to acquire the life-saving devices, the Manitoba government provided more than $1.3 million to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Manitoba for 1,000 defibrillators.  This included AEDs for schools, community centres, curling clubs, golf courses and other sports venues. 

"The province is an outstanding leader with a demonstrated commitment to creating a heart-safe environment for all Manitobans and our vision of having AEDs as commonplace as fire extinguishers is moving closer to reality," said Debbie Brown, chief executive officer, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Manitoba.  "This law means more lives can be saved, more families will be together, more citizens will be working and more children will be laughing.  Together, we will be creating more survivors."

In addition, the province partnered with the foundation to negotiate with multiple distributors to provide discounts ranging from 30 to 40 per cent off the regular retail price to make it easier for facilities designated under the new legislation to purchase a defibrillator.

The legislation also supports public access in an emergency by requiring signage to identify the locations of defibrillators and require they be centrally registered with the Heart and Stroke Foundation.  The registry information is shared with emergency medical service dispatchers to help those trying to care for a cardiac arrest victim find the nearest defibrillator.  As of Dec. 31, 2,291 AEDs were registered in Manitoba.

Defibrillators deliver an electric shock to restart a stopped heart and are programmed to detect if a person is having an irregular heart rhythm that indicates potential cardiac arrest.  AEDs offer step‑by‑step instructions so training is not required.  If the AED does not detect a shockable heart rhythm, the machine does not deliver a shock.

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Manitoba, defibrillation used with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can dramatically improve cardiac arrest survival rates by 75 per cent or more over CPR alone.

A full list of designated public places required to have a defibrillator on site, as well as information about the types of defibrillators that are acceptable and how they must be installed and registered, is available at

Friday, January 10, 2014


January 9, 2014


The Office of the Chief Provincial Public Health advises the province is experiencing the typical increases in cases of seasonal influenza in Manitoba, indicating that flu season is underway.

As of today, there have been 45 reported cases of lab-confirmed influenza.  To date, there have been no confirmed influenza-related deaths this season.

The flu is an infection caused by a virus.  It can spread easily from one person to another through coughing, sneezing or sharing food or drinks.  People can also get the flu by touching objects contaminated with flu virus and then touching your mouth, eyes or nose.

Manitobans are encouraged to wash their hands regularly and practice good cough and sneeze etiquette (coughing or sneezing into your elbow, sleeve or using a tissue).

This year's seasonal flu vaccine protects against H1N1 influenza A, as well as two other strains of the flu.  Manitobans who have not yet received their flu shot this year can contact their health-care provider or community public health clinic to make arrangements.

The annual flu shot is especially important for those at increased risk of serious illness from the flu, their caregivers and close contacts.  This includes:
* seniors aged 65 or older,
* residents of personal care homes or long-term care facilities,
* children aged six months to five years,
* those with chronic illness,
* pregnant women,
* health care workers and first responders,
* individuals of Aboriginal ancestry,
* people who are severely overweight or obese, or
* as determined by your primary health-care provider.

For more information on seasonal influenza in Manitoba, visit