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NZ Herceptin Campaign ‘Goes Global’

Media Release

Auckland, 1 September 2008

For Immediate Release

NZ Herceptin Campaign ‘Goes Global’

The UICC (International Union Against Cancer) World Cancer Congress held last week in Geneva provided breast cancer advocate Dr Chris Walsh with a platform to present the plight of NZ women needing Herceptin to the international oncology community.

Dr Walsh explained that the NZ drug funding agency PHARMAC considers 9 weeks Herceptin good enough and refuses to fund the international standard 12 months. She told delegates that New Zealand women diagnosed with early stage HER2 positive breast cancer are mortgaging their homes to pay for Herceptin.

“Many delegates are familiar with the evidence around 9 weeks and 12 months,” said Dr Walsh, “and are shocked that NZ, perceived to be a wealthy and up to date country, does not support their women. They believed New Zealand had a good health system. This revelation has them thinking again.”

Dr Walsh told the Congress that access to Herceptin and other medicines may well be a significant issue when New Zealanders go to the polls in November.

The UICC World Cancer Congress is one of the largest in the world and is held every 2 years. This year’s conference held 27-31st August attracted 2,600 cancer specialists, researchers, professionals and advocates from around the world. The UICC works to fight cancer incidence worldwide through cancer prevention and control, tobacco control, knowledge transfer and capacity building and supportive care. The organisation coordinates World Cancer Day on February 4th each year.

About the Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition

The Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition (BCAC) is an Incorporated Society with charitable status, presenting a unified voice calling for improvement and innovation on behalf of all New Zealand women experiencing breast cancer.

BCAC was formed in November 2004 when twelve New Zealand breast cancer organisations came together at a forum to create a unified group. BCAC now has twenty-five member organisations and is currently working on five major initiatives:

* to ensure consistent, high quality detection and treatment of breast cancer throughout New Zealand by promoting the development and implementation of evidence-based best practice guidelines; * to support the prompt and effective implementation of the extended age breast-screening programme (45 to 69 years); * to inform and advocate for improved access to breast cancer treatment medicines; * to research and promote the provision of professional psychosocial services for breast cancer patients and their whanau and family; * to identify and promote breast cancer issues for Māori and Pacific Island women


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