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Women let down by Herceptin decision

Dr Jackie Blue
National Party Associate Health Spokeswoman

28 July 2006

Women let down by Herceptin decision

The hopes of hundreds of women with early-stage Her2 breast cancer have been decimated by Pharmac's decision to defer extending funding for Herceptin, says National's Associate Health spokeswoman Dr Jackie Blue.

"These women will continue to face the stress of desperately trying to find the money to pay for Herceptin or face an uncertain future without it," says Dr Blue, New Zealand’s first breast physician.

“It is astonishing that Pharmac's specialist cancer committee has given it a low to medium funding priority.

"The United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and many European countries have exhaustively examined the evidence and found Herceptin to be cost-effective.

"Why is it that the rest of the world is moving towards funding this drug but New Zealand is backing off?

“I don't hold much hope that Pharmac's Advisory Board meeting in August will suddenly approve funding.

“Drugs that are given low to medium priority usually languish and never see the light of day. Even drugs given high priority take years to get funding approved.

"It defies logic that Pharmac funds Herceptin to extend the life of women with advanced breast cancer but denies it to women in the early stages of the disease when it could save their lives.

"Time is of the essence for women with aggressive Herceptin-responsive breast cancers. They don't want to wait for the cancer to spread to their liver, lungs, bones or brain before they can get access to Herceptin.

“This decision is hugely disappointing."


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