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Pharmac Avoids Clear-Cut Decision

Media release

29 July 2002

Pharmac avoids clear-cut decision

The Leukaemia and Blood Foundation says Pharmac is trying to avoid tackling a clear-cut decision to fund the cancer drug Glivec.

The Foundation said it was pleased that Pharmac had taken into consideration the submissions generated during its Savethe90 Campaign.

"Pharmac has acknowledged that Glivec is the best drug for Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia (CML) patients and they say they want to fund it for all stages," said Mr Jim Hamilton, executive director of the Leukaemia and Blood Foundation.

"Unbelievably, instead of approving funding for Glivec, Pharmac has decided not to fund it at all, but to argue over the price, again.

"And to add salt to the wound, Pharmac's excuse for doing this is to say Glivec is not as cost-effective when compared to the other standard treatments currently available.

"Pharmac knows very well that this argument is a nonsense. Glivec is three times more effective than interferon and interferon puts one in three patients back into hospital.

"Glivec gets the CML patients out of bed and working, saving the tax payer thousands of dollars in associated loss of earning, hospital and medical charges.

"Pharmac is shifting its responsibilities onto the negotiating table and in between times there are 90 CML patients who are dying because they need the treatment now," said Mr Hamilton.

"We are in the same position as we were nine months ago when the drug was fast tracked for use in New Zealand. Therefore we cannot be happy with this result for our 90 patients who need this treatment today."

Ends

Contact: Jim Hamilton Tel: 09 308 0240, Tel: 021 990 722


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