Pharmac reportedly has rejected funding for breast cancer drug

Newstalk ZB ,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 6:23p.m.
Hundreds of women were hoping to receive the drug. (Photo / Getty)

A breast cancer support group has been told that Pharmac has rejected funding for the drug Kadcyla. 

The health select committee considered a petition signed by 34,000 people earlier this month calling for the Government drug-buying agency to fully fund the drug.

The drug has been funded in Australia since 2015, but has been under consideration in New Zealand for some time. 

Pharmac told Newstalk ZB that they are yet to have made a decision. A spokesperson says it has completed an assessment of the drug and it's been ranked against other medicines which also have positive funding reccomendations.

They said the next meeting summary notes on the issue are out next month, and even then there mightn't be a decision made.

However, drug company Roche Pharmaceuticals has told Breast Cancer Aotearoa that the agency informed them they are not considering Kadcyla any longer as it 'isn't a priority'. 

That's according to group chair Libby Burgess told Heather du Plessis-Allan that this is bad news for the hundreds of New Zealand women that were hoping for this drug.

"These are women who want to be around to bring up their kids, do their jobs, and just live whatever life they're living." 

Burgess says that they will have to tap into their savings in order to pay for the drug, which costs some woman $10,000 every three weeks. 

She says that Pharmac has not released an official reason as to why they have not funded the drug, but says the decision is in direct contradiction to Pharmac's own clinical experts.

"We keep hearing how great the recommendations are from the expert committees, and their cancer treatment sub-committee actually recommended this for funding.

"So it's a system that is broken, it's not working. We simply don't have enough money in the pharmaceuticals budget to fund all the good medicines that need to be funded."

She believes that our budget is "incredibly small" compared to other countries such as Australia. 

"The New Zealand system rations very harshly, there are a lot of really effective medicines not funded here." 

Burgess believes that this is a "vital medicine" that could extend the lives of the woman who took it, that could see their life expectancy increased anywhere between 10 months and five years. 

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