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Herceptin Petition to Parliament this Thursday

Breast Cancer Advocacy Coalition
Media Release - Auckland, 13 March 2006
For Immediate Release

Herceptin Petition to Parliament this Thursday

The Breast Cancer Advocacy Coalition (BCAC) is pleased to announce that the Anne Hayden Herceptin Petition will be presented to Parliament at 1.15pm, this Thursday, 16th March, by the Seddon Statue in the grounds of Parliament. The petition asks Parliament to support the immediate provision of full funding for the use of Herceptin (in early stage Her2+ breast cancer) as a matter of urgency.

"The speed with which we have been able to collect over 17,000 signatures shows the strong support that New Zealanders have offered for this worthy cause. We welcome any member of the public who supports the fight against breast cancer to attend the event.” said Libby Burgess, Chair of BCAC. “We salute Anne Hayden, a courageous community-spirited woman with Her2+ early breast cancer who is raising funds to buy Herceptin, for initiating and driving the Petition in order to help others.”

Medsafe's decision on whether Herceptin is approved for use in early breast cancer is not expected until March 21st.

"At a recent Health Select Committee meeting Pharmac's Medical Director, Dr Peter Moodie said that following Medsafe’s recommendation, Herceptin would be referred back to Pharmac's Advisory Board PTAC (Pharmacology and Therapeutics Advisory Committee) and to its expert cancer subcommittee CaTSoP (Cancer Treatments Sub-committee of Pharmac),” said Ms Burgess.

"We remain confident that Medsafe will approve Herceptin for use in early breast cancer as the benefits in preventing this aggressive cancer from returning as advanced so clearly outweigh any risks. We urge Pharmac to refer Herceptin urgently and directly to CaTSoP to speed up the process. PTAC is not scheduled to meet until May and women needing Herceptin can’t afford to wait another 2 months.

“Time is of the essence for the many women who have completed or are completing their standard chemotherapy and have a limited 'window of opportunity' to begin Herceptin. Every week that goes by sees between 45 and 50 New Zealand women receiving a breast cancer diagnosis. Approximately one in four of these women will be told that they have Her2+ cancer. Many will learn that they should take Herceptin and that they will need to find around $110,000 or more (depending on body weight and oncologist fees) to pay for it. The current situation is creating a lot of despair for many New Zealand families.”

“New Zealanders of all political persuasions have got behind the petition and we are expecting that all political parties will be represented at its presentation.”

Ends

About the Breast Cancer Advocacy Coalition

BCAC was formed in November, 2004 when twelve New Zealand breast cancer organisations held a forum to create one group, presenting a unified voice to advocate and lobby for change, improvement and innovation on behalf of all New Zealand women suffering from breast cancer. The group is currently working on four major initiatives – advocating for nationwide adoption of the National Breast Cancer Register of data, supporting the Breast Screen Aotearoa programme in reaching its screening targets for women in the 45 to 69 age group, improving access to pharmaceutical treatments for breast cancer and advocating for a consistency of high quality care throughout the country by the establishment of best practice clinical guidelines.

ENDS

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