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Cancer sufferers lose life-savings for drug

16 March 2006

Obscene that breast cancer sufferers lose life-savings for drug

Green MP Sue Kedgley says it is scandalous that the breast cancer drug Herceptin costs 50 percent more here in New Zealand than it costs in the United Kingdom.

In New Zealand the drug costs $70-120,000, depending on the length of the treatment.

"Why are drugs like Herceptin so expensive? It is frankly obscene that women who are not eligible for a subsidised drug have to spend $100,000 to get a treatment for life-threatening breast cancer.

"If Herceptin cost the same as it did in the United Kingdom - fifty percent less - then it would be much more affordable and much easier for Pharmac to subsidise," Ms Kedgley says.

"Clearly some drug companies are not charging the true cost of the drug, but rather what they think they can extract out of a market where there is huge demand for it. It is blatant opportunism from some of the world's richest companies.

"Of equal concern is the fact that it costs $30,000 more to get the treatment in Auckland than it does in Palmerston North. This is utterly unfair and inequitable.

"Does this mean that oncologists and some private hospitals in Auckland are more interested in making a profit than in providing a life-saving treatment to women?"

ENDS

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