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Hodson says cancer sufferers not worth it

Dr Jackie Blue National Party
Associate Health Spokeswoman (Pharmacare)

16 October 2006

Hodgson says breast cancer sufferers not worth the investment

Today's announcement by Pharmac's clinical advisory committee not to fund Herceptin comes as no surprise, says National's Associate Health spokeswoman (Pharmacare), Dr Jackie Blue.

"In response to a question in Parliament last week on whether Pharmac would be funding Herceptin, Mr Hodgson said 'we did not think that it was worth a $30 million per annum investment'.

"This is an absolute insult to the 600 women diagnosed with Her 2 breast cancer each year. In any case, Mr Hodgson is out of touch - Pharmac has suggested the figure is more likely to be $20 to $25 million.

"Twenty-two of 30 OECD countries have made the decision to fund Herceptin for women with early breast cancer - a decision that's been made with the very same information that Pharmac has.

"Countries like Portugal and Mexico, along with Australia and the United Kingdom clearly think their women are worth the investment.

"It's obvious that Pharmac is holding out for a cheaper option and hoping that a nine-week course of Herceptin will prove to be as effective as a 12-month course.

"But the FinHer trial that examined the nine-week treatment option contained only a very small number of women, and the results weren't statistically significant, in complete contrast to the large scale HERA trials which involved more than 12,000 women.

"It's also no surprise that the DHBs have supported this decision. Without separate funding, DHB chiefs would be struggling to fund Herceptin out of their limited cancer budgets.

"It defies logic that Pharmac funds Herceptin for women with advanced breast cancer while denying access to women with early stage breast cancer when there is crystal clear evidence that it is effective."


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