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Herceptin: What's it going to take?

Jackie Blue MP National Party Associate Health Spokeswoman

30 July 2008

Herceptin: What's it going to take?

National Party Leader John Key and Associate Health spokeswoman Jackie Blue are urging the Government to free up money to fund 12 months of Herceptin.

Dr Blue says that as a result of a High Court directive in April, the Pharmac Board is meeting today to review its decision not to fund the drug for 12 months.

"We've always said from the outset that we were concerned that Pharmac's entrenched stance in funding nine weeks only was financial, and not based on best evidence.

"The evidence supporting 12 months is completely sound, while the evidence supporting the shorter programme is weak.

"Our very own Medsafe has even refused to register the short course due to a lack of clinical evidence," says Dr Blue, a former breast physician.

"For more than two years the Pharmac Board has resolutely ignored the opinions of cancer specialists, including their own cancer specialist committee.

"The irony is that we were first off the block to register 12 months Herceptin in March 2006.

"Instead of progress, New Zealand women have had to watch as one by one, 33 countries now fund the full 12-month Herceptin course.

"Two and a half years later, hundreds of women diagnosed with this aggressive breast cancer have either had no Herceptin or, since July 2007, just nine weeks.

"Sub-optimal or zero treatment means they all face an uncertain future," says Dr Blue.

"What's it going to take for this Government to finally fund 12 months of Herceptin?"

ENDS

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