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PHARMAC asked to fast-track melanoma funding reviews

Summit calls for PHARMAC to fast track funding reviews for latest melanoma treatments

Melanoma experts are calling on PHARMAC to fast track funding reviews for the latest treatments for advanced melanoma, saying New Zealanders are missing out.

New Zealand and international melanoma experts have been meeting in Auckland for the national Melanoma Summit – an opportunity for those working in all areas of melanoma control to hear about recent developments and identify priorities for action.

Plastic surgeon Mr Gary Duncan is Chair of the Executive Committee of MelNet, a network of professionals working together to reduce the incidence and impact of melanoma in New Zealand.

He says the Summit’s more than 270 attendees unanimously agreed that PHARMAC should fast track funding reviews for treatments for advanced melanoma, none of which are publically funded in New Zealand.

“New Zealand needs to advocate for funding for effective therapies for melanoma. There’s a gap between drugs being assessed and registered by Medsafe and approved by PHARMAC for funding.

“These therapies have come along very quickly, but they’re proven and very, very effective.

“They’re available elsewhere and we’re lagging behind. It’s not OK for patients in New Zealand to have access to only one drug that is no longer considered effective.”

PHARMAC announced this week that a new analysis of cancer medicine access in Australia and New Zealand showed that New Zealanders are getting access to the best cancer medicines available.

But Mr Duncan said Summit delegates disagreed with the conclusions of PHARMAC’s analysis with respect to melanoma and were concerned that it was misleading for patients.

“International melanoma experts presented evidence at the Summit of the effectiveness of new, innovative therapies which have completely changed the treatment of advanced melanoma.

“There is provision for PHARMAC to fast track funding reviews of treatments that deliver clinically meaningful benefit for patients and these treatments clearly meet that definition. They are game changers.”

Melanoma is the second most common cancer in New Zealand for men and women aged 25-44. More than 350 New Zealanders die of melanoma each year.

ENDS

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