A university instructor from British Columbia has lodged a formal complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal against Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) and two administrators, accusing the institution of discrimination and causing him distress over the potential loss of coverage for a life-changing medication. Mazen Guirguis, a philosophy instructor and former dean at KPU, filed the complaint in September, citing concerns that his coverage for risdiplam, a drug that costs nearly $1,000 per day, may be discontinued after December 22. However, Guirguis claims that the university has not provided him with information regarding any changes to his coverage eligibility, leading to the filing of the complaint.
In his complaint, Guirguis named KPU president Alan Davis and vice-president of human resources Laurie Clancy as respondents. While the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has yet to decide whether it will hear the case, KPU has stated that it has not seen the complaint and will not comment on the specifics at this time. Guirguis, who suffers from Type 3 spinal-muscular atrophy, a progressive neuromuscular disease, relies on risdiplam to maintain his muscle function and independence. He describes the drug, which was approved by Health Canada in 2021, as “miraculous” for pausing his deterioration and improving his motor function.
Guirguis alleges that he faced confusion and uncertainty surrounding his coverage for risdiplam. Despite being approved for coverage by his insurer, Manulife, in September 2022, he now faces uncertainty about his coverage after December 22. Manulife had initially provided him with a prior authorization form that listed risdiplam as an option, but when he sought to renew his coverage in September, the drug was not listed on the form. Guirguis has yet to receive confirmation from Manulife whether his older form, which does list risdiplam, has been accepted.
KPU has not responded to Guirguis’ inquiries regarding coverage, and both KPU and Manulife have cited privacy reasons for their refusal to comment on the specific case. However, the issues faced by Guirguis are believed to be connected to broader concerns with DrugWatch, an optional program that analyzes the costs and benefits of new medications. The Kwantlen Faculty Association (KFA) is currently grieving this program, which it views as discriminatory and unfair. The KFA believes that the enrollment in DrugWatch may have impacted the coverage of risdiplam.
Q: What is the complaint filed by Mazen Guirguis against Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) and two administrators?
A: The complaint alleges that the university is discriminating against Guirguis and causing him distress by potentially discontinuing his coverage for a life-changing medication.
Q: Who are the respondents named in Guirguis’ complaint?
A: The respondents named in the complaint are KPU president Alan Davis and vice-president of human resources Laurie Clancy.
Q: Has the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal decided whether it will hear the complaint?
A: The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has not yet decided whether it will hear the complaint.
Q: What is risdiplam, and why is it important to Guirguis?
A: Risdiplam is a medication that costs nearly $1,000 per day. Guirguis relies on it to maintain his muscle function and independence as he suffers from Type 3 spinal-muscular atrophy.
Q: Why is there confusion and uncertainty surrounding Guirguis’ coverage for risdiplam?
A: Guirguis claims that he was initially approved for coverage by his insurer, Manulife, but now he faces uncertainty about his coverage after December 22. The drug was not listed on the renewal form he received, and he has not heard back from Manulife about his older form that does list risdiplam.
Q: What is DrugWatch, and how is it connected to Guirguis’ situation?
A: DrugWatch is an optional program that analyzes the costs and benefits of new medications. The KFA is grieving the program, believing it to be discriminatory and unfair. The enrollment in DrugWatch is thought to have potentially impacted the coverage of risdiplam.