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National vows to honour Herceptin pledge

10th November 2008

National vows to honour Herceptin pledge

Prime Minister Elect John Key has reassured New Zealand women that he will honour his pledge to fund 12 months of Herceptin for women with early stage HER2 positive breast cancer.

Newly appointed Health Minister Tony Ryall said Herceptin will be funded for 12 months by the Ministry of Health, a decision which leaves PHARMAC standing alone with its funding of only 9 weeks.

The decision signals the end of a three-year long battle for breast cancer patients and their doctors to provide New Zealand women with access to the world standard of Herceptin treatment.

‘We are absolutely delighted to hear the wonderfully positive message from John Key and Tony Ryall that Herceptin funding will be in place by Christmas,’ said Libby Burgess, Chair of the Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition (BCAC). ‘This is a huge relief for New Zealand women with breast cancer, their families and communities.

‘We celebrate the fact that the new National government has listened to the experts both in New Zealand and around the world and will establish the proven treatment in our country. We owe much to the efforts of those clinicians who kept trying to convince PHARMAC by presenting the ever-increasing body of evidence of Herceptin’s efficacy.

‘We are very hopeful that the government will support those women who have already begun self-funding their Herceptin courses as well as those who have not yet started their treatment.’

Ms Burgess acknowledged the collective and tireless efforts of those groups, individuals and medical professionals who have campaigned since mid-2005 for 12 months of Herceptin funding.

‘I must offer a heartfelt thank you to all of those courageous people who have battled so long and so hard to bring the evidence to light and keep this issue in the public eye. I applaud Anne Hayden, Nic Russell, Mandy Carter, Chris Walsh and the Herceptin Heroines who presented petitions to parliament and took PHARMAC to the High Court. These women stood up and represented all those affected by HER2 positive breast cancer while battling their own diagnosis. I also thank the Herceptin Riders and all the wonderful Kiwis who rallied to this cause to support our women.

‘Now that this long and bitter struggle is over we will be able to direct our efforts into other breast cancer areas.

‘It’s time for New Zealand to move forward and make positive progress instead of struggling to catch up with the rest of the world.’

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-seven 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 Mâori and Pacific Island women

To arrange an interview with a representative from the Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition, please contact:


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