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Labour Fails; Swiss To The Rescue

Labour Fails; Swiss To The Rescue

ACT New Zealand Health Spokesman Heather Roy today said it was utterly disgraceful that a Swiss drug company has had to come to the rescue of New Zealand cancer patients, in light of the funding fiasco surrounding life-saving drug Mabthera.

"Labour and PHARMAC should be ashamed of themselves. Health Minister Annette King clearly places more importance on PHARMAC staff bonuses - to cut back costs - than the lives of lymphoma patients, who include young people and children," Mrs Roy said.

"While Swiss company Roche Pharmaceuticals has generously agreed to supply Mabthera for three months free of charge, PHARMAC sends the bill to District Health Boards - who must fund it from their operational expenses.

"Meanwhile, Finance Minister Dr Michael Cullen saves his huge $7 billion surplus for election bribes. It is harder to envisage a more legitimate claim on the pharmaceutical budget than life-saving cancer treatment.

"DHBs have come under huge pressure to keep deficits in check, in order to make the Minister look fiscally prudent. The July date they have agreed to is the start of their financial year.

"While our own Government defers action until the next financial year, New Zealand lymphoma patients have received a reprieve from a death sentence by a drug company acting compassionately to fill the gaps," Mrs Roy said

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