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Herceptin Decision

Hon David Cunliffe
Minister of Health

7th August 2008
Media Statement

Herceptin Decision

Pharmac’s decision to decline funding for a 12 month course of the breast cancer drug Herceptin has been acknowledged by the Minister of Health David Cunliffe.

“This is Pharmac’s decision and one that I can not legally intervene in however I am assured that the court directed review of the Herceptin decision was thorough. Pharmac has assured the Government that their decision was not made for reasons of cost.”

“I have asked Pharmac to maintain a careful watch on the scientific research around Herceptin.They have assured me that if any fresh evidence emerges around the relative merits of the two courses Pharmac will review their decision,” said Mr Cunliffe

“From this review I am advised that there is no new conclusive scientific evidence that would favour the 12 month Herceptin course over the nine week course that Pharmac currently funds. The nine week course is supported by evidence from a well designed trial.”

“I think it is important to reaffirm the government’s confidence and support in the Pharmac process. I think it is also important to reaffirm that New Zealand is committed to supporting the very important global SOLD trial into Herceptin,” said Mr Cunliffe.

“I note Pharmac’s advice that the 12 month course of Herceptin carries a greater risk of heart toxicity and that funding the 12 month course would mean that other drugs and treatments could not be provided”.

“About 250 New Zealand women have been approved for the nine week Herceptin course and I acknowledge and respect the deeply held concerns of all breast cancer sufferers, their families and the broader clinical community around the arguments over the two treatment regimes.” said Mr Cunliffe.

“I would also like to make the point the best weapon against breast cancer remains the National Breast Screening programme. That programme aims to cut the breast cancer death rate in the women being screened by a third.”


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