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Call for DHBs to administer Herceptin

Dr Jackie Blue
National Party Associate Health Spokeswoman

5 April 2006

Call for DHBs to administer Herceptin

The Labour Government must allow women who are paying for Herceptin to have the drug administered in their local public hospital, says National Party Associate Health spokeswoman Dr Jackie Blue.

"All Health Minister Pete Hodgson has to do is say the word and these women can save thousands by having Herceptin administered at their local hospital.

”The basic cost of the drug is $70,000 for 12 months, but added to this is the cost to have it administered and monitored in private, which can be as much as $50,000 extra.

"Now that Herceptin has been approved for use in early breast cancer, I have written to the Health Minister to look at an interim measure of allowing women who are paying for Herceptin privately to have it administered in public hospitals until funding is approved later in the year.

“This would be of tremendous financial help to these women, who are struggling to raise money for their treatment. But it seems that DHB policy may not allow this.”

Dr Blue says she is concerned that the biggest hurdle to funding Herceptin will be getting agreement from DHB chiefs to find the money in their limited cancer budgets.

”In Parliament’s health select committee today, Ministry of Health officials indicated that to fund Herceptin they would have to look at ‘prioritisation’.

“What this really means is that patient groups will be pitted against each other for drug funding. That is the last thing we need.

“The Government needs to step in and ensure there is enough money in the cancer drug budget to avoid this situation,” says Dr Blue.


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