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Pharmac funding cuts stop new drugs, costs lives

Michael Woodhouse - Health

4 February 2019

Pharmac’s ability to fund new cancer drugs would be much greater if the Government hadn’t cut $200 million from the medicines budget, National’s Health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse says.

“A report put out by the Breast Cancer Foundation in 2018 showed the average survival in New Zealand after a diagnosis of incurable advanced breast cancer was only 16 months, compared with two-to-three years in comparable countries such as Australia, Germany and France.

“That’s why a visiting world authority on terminal breast cancer, Dr Fatima Cardoso, is supporting calls from breast cancer patients for funding for Ibrance and Kadcyla.

“In Budget 2018, the Government cut $200 million from the cost of drugs we already purchase. Rather than use those savings to invest in funding new medicines, they cynically used that funding from the medicines budget to pay for other commitments. The Health Minister has admitted this.

“This cut was made despite the Labour Party’s election commitment to ensure New Zealanders get world-class cancer care and to fund the sector accordingly.

“This funding cut is delivering closer to third world treatment and is a damning indictment on a Government whose reality is the opposite of their rhetoric.

“Patients are dying or dying sooner than they should under this Government. The solutions are clear: greater transparency in decision making, more timely decisions and the reversal of this terrible cut in medicines funding.”


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