By Zahid Somani, R.Ph.
The Village Pharmacy [link: www.thevillagepharmacy.ca]
ODB (Ontario Drug Benefits) added both Biktarvy and Isentress HD to its formulary as of July 31, 2019. So, if you are on the Trillium Drug Plan, ODSP, Ontario Works or OHIP+, Biktarvy and Isentress HD are now covered. You can find the full list of changes to the Formulary here. [link to: http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/pro/programs/drugs/formulary43/summary_edition43_20190723.pdf]
A bit about Biktarvy:
Biktarvy is a single-tablet regimen which means you take one pill, once-a-day for the treatment of HIV. Biktarvy comprises 3 drugs – bictegravir, TAF (tenofovir alafenamide) and FTC (emtricitabine). It is a small pill that can be taken with or without food, and is generally very well-tolerated. Side-effects such as headache, nausea and diarrhea were uncommon and temporary, according to clinical trials.
Read the Biktarvy Fact Sheet on Catie’s website for more info. [link: https://www.catie.ca/en/fact-sheets/co-formulations/biktarvy].
A bit about Isentress HD
Isentress HD is a single-drug integrase inhibitor, containing Raltegravir, and is meant to be used as part of combination therapy for the treatment of HIV. Isentress HD is a newer version that requires you to take two 600mg tablets once-a-day, with or without food, and is generally well-tolerated with few side-effects. The older version, Isentress, is one 400mg tablet taken twice-a-day. Although the Isentress HD tablets are a little larger, the once per day regimen can help reduce the number of missed doses.
If you have questions about switching from your current HIV medications to Biktarvy or Isentress HD now that they are covered by ODB, please feel free to reach out to Zahid at The Village Pharmacy, or get in touch with your doctor.
Trillium Drug Program – New Year Begins August 1, 2019
The new Trillium Drug Program year started on August, 2019. It’s so important to ensure you have renewed your coverage so that you don’t experience any interruption or delay in getting your medications.
If you haven’t received a letter in the mail to renew your coverage, or if you haven’t yet renewed for any other reason, please contact the Trillium Drug Program as soon as possible. You can reach them here:
Get in touch with the Trillium Drug Program
1-800-575-5386 (toll free)
416-642-3038 (in Toronto area)
At The Village Pharmacy, we have already seen clients who have been cut-off from their Trillium coverage. The main reasons are related to filing your tax returns. Specifically, Trillium will suspend your coverage if you:
- have not filed your tax returns for 2018
- are self-employed and filed their tax returns in June. It’s important to note that Trillium does not electronically pick up returns filed from CRA after April 30.
- have a beneficiary / another family member in your plan whose tax returns have not been filed.
If you are new to Trillium and would like to apply for coverage, you can do so by September 30th, 2019 to be reimbursed for any eligible drug you received in the previous program year (August 1st, 2018 to July 31st, 2019). You can get the forms online at https://www.ontario.ca/page/get-help-high-prescription-drug-costs or come in to The Village Pharmacy to pick one up, and we can help you fill it out.
As always, we’re here to help if you have questions about your Trillium Drug Program, or your HIV and other medications. Get in touch with us, or come in to The Village Pharmacy anytime.