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Breast cancer treatments get a funding boost

31 August 2006

Breast cancer treatments get a funding boost

Treatments for early breast cancer are getting a boost with a decision to fund the taxane drug paclitaxel for early breast cancer.

PHARMAC’s Medical Director Dr Peter Moodie says the decision is expected to see up to 550 women with early breast cancer treated with paclitaxel (Taxol) each year.

Taxanes are a class of chemotherapeutic drugs that are funded for a number of cancers, including ovarian, fallopian and metastatic breast cancer. From 1 September 2006, funding for paclitaxel will also include women with node positive early breast cancer, says Dr Moodie.

“The clinical data shows that using taxanes in this way can help women with breast cancer live longer,” says Dr Moodie. “An absolute 5-year survival improvement of 3-6% is a significant advance, so we are pleased that we and DHBs have been able to make this commitment to improving outcomes for women with breast cancer.”

Overall, PHARMAC estimates the access widening will cost DHBs $12.5 million over five years.

Taxanes are administered as part of chemotherapy, following surgery and radiotherapy. Paclitaxel is administered intravenously in hospitals, usually for three hours every three weeks.

Dr Moodie says that PHARMAC remains open to funding the other taxane, docetaxel, for early breast cancer.


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