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Prostate cancer drug deal must be scrutinised

Jackie Blue MP
National Party Associate Health Spokeswoman

12 December 2005

Prostate cancer drug deal must be scrutinised by experts

Pharmac has confirmed that Abbot Laboratories has agreed to a 20% reduction in the subsidy and price of the prostate cancer drug Lucrin in return for Pharmac subsidising Humira, a rheumatoid arthritis drug also owned by Abbot Laboratories, says National’s Associate Health spokeswoman, Dr Jackie Blue.

"Consequently, Pharmac has put pressure on rival pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, which makes the widely used prostate cancer drug Zoladex, to match the 20% reduction,”says Dr Blue.

“In the business world, I’m sure this would be regarded as good, competitive business practice, if it weren't for the fact that there are serious concerns that Lucrin is not clinically equivalent to Zoladex.

"Unfortunately, the issue of whether these two drugs are equivalent has been assessed only by Pharmac's generalist medical committee and not their specialist cancer committee, CaTSOP.

"To eliminate any doubt, this matter must be sorted out by CaTSOP, and Pharmac should release all submissions from expert clinicians concerning this decision.

“With 2000 men diagnosed with prostate cancer every year, Pharmac cannot afford to play off drug companies at the expense of prostate cancer sufferers,” says Dr Blue.


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