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Herceptin may be on horizon for NZ women

Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition (BCAC)

Media Release

23 October 2008

For Immediate Release

Herceptin may be on horizon for NZ women

John Key’s announcement today that a National-led government will fund 12 months of Herceptin could bring immeasurable relief to women and their families affected by early stage HER2 positive breast cancer.

The National health policy has brought new hope to Herceptin campaigners who have battled PHARMAC with petitions and legal proceedings in unsuccessful attempts to overturn the current situation of funding for only 9 weeks of treatment.  Twelve months of Herceptin is the current standard treatment publicly funded for women in 33 other countries.

New Zealand women wanting more than the 9 week regime must pay for the treatment themselves. A 12 month course can cost between $50,000 and $100,000.

‘Whilst this pledge by John Key will not help women already facing this difficulty, implementation of this policy would certainly ease the stress for those enduring HER2 positive breast cancer in the future,’ said Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition (BCAC) Chair Libby Burgess.

Key cited the example of Australia which has a higher per capita spend on medicines than New Zealand.

‘It’s time New Zealand caught up with the rest of the world,’ said Burgess. ‘We are lagging behind. New Zealand’s per capita funding of pharmaceuticals is only 76% that of Australia.  In Australia public expenditure on prescription medicines is 14% of the total health budget compared with only 6% in New Zealand.  We are delighted to see a policy that would significantly improve our access to medicines in this country.’  


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