ON AIR: Larry Williams Drive

4p.m. - 7p.m.

Cancer Society slams Pharmac's treatment of patients

Newstalk ZB ,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 20 March 2019, 8:39p.m.
Dr Chris Jackson says Pharmac is more concerned about costs. (Photo / SXC)

The Cancer Society says New Zealand patients are worse off than those in Australia.

Breast cancer sufferers have today again pleaded with parliament's health select committee, calling for their drugs to be funded and looking for an inquiry into Pharmac.

Last week, Sarah Cato told Newstalk ZB she had to crowdfund to afford her treatment, which costs $7,000 every three weeks, despite being funded in Australia.

Health Minister David Clark and Pharmac both declined to be interviewed this afternoon.

Pharmac issued a lengthy statement saying; "many new medicines are launched without clear evidence that they work as the pharmaceutical companies claim.

“These treatments can look promising, but we need to be absolutely sure these medicines truly deliver the benefits that companies claim they do, and that we spend public money wisely."

It also said it's currently considering whether it should fund the breast cancer drugs ibrance and kadcyla.

Dr Chris Jackson from the Cancer Society told Larry Williams that Pharmac has long said that these drugs don’t do what they say on the tin.

“If they think they don’t deliver what they say they do, they could monitor the benefit once they’ve been funded. They’ve decided not to do that.”

He wants Pharmac to use the Magnitude of Clinical Benefit Scale, which is essentially a 'drug scorecard'.

"It can give people a clear idea as to how good these drugs are, from a scale of one to five."

Dr Jackson says that Australia and Canada are using drugs that are scoring highly, but Pharmac seems to be ignoring that scale.

He says this is clearly all about cost.

"We don't spend as much on cancer drugs as other countries do, and we clearly have worse access to cancer drugs than Australia, Canada and the UK. That much is inarguable." 

Dr Jackson says that he has heard from different patient groups that their drugs are funded in comparative countries but are not funded here.

He wants Pharmac to evaluate how they fund drugs and how they get across the line.

However, he is not sure that an inquiry will reveal anything new.

"What we need is solutions, what we need is action."

ON AIR: Larry Williams Drive

4p.m. - 7p.m.