07/28/2014 12:23 EDT | Updated 09/27/2014 05:59 EDT

New Brunswick announces plan to pay for drugs to treat rare diseases

FREDERICTON - A program has been launched in New Brunswick to help people pay for drugs for rare diseases.

The plan will cover the costs of five drugs for rare diseases including Hunter syndrome and Pompe disease.

Health Minister Hugh Flemming said Monday the medications for such diseases aren't often covered by most drug plans and it's difficult for a province to negotiate to buy a drug for one person.

New Brunswick is partnering with Ontario to deliver the plan in an effort to increase purchasing power, Flemming said.

"They agreed to work with us with respect to purchasing so that we could get their buying power," he said.

"Over time we will be working with other governments to have a pan-Canadian plan so that there is great strength in purchasing power."

Flemming said the program is expected to cost between $1 million and $4 million per year, depending on usage, but there will be no cost to patients.

He said patients can begin applying for the drug coverage starting Aug. 1.