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Patient advocacy group presents to Health Select Committee

Dr Ken Romeril, chief executive, Myeloma New Zealand, is appearing today before the Health Select Committee in support of their submission asking for funding of six life-extending treatments for multiple myeloma patients.

Dr Romeril said there have been huge advances in myeloma treatment internationally, but no new anti-myeloma medicines have been funded in NZ in the last 5 years and NZ consistently ranks 19th or last out of 20 OECD countries in access to new medicines, and that needs to change.

“Today I am pleading to the Health Select Committee on behalf of Myeloma New Zealand and over 2,500 patients living with this disease, that they recommend the funding of these six life-extending treatments, which will bring myeloma treatment in-line with international best practice.”

Dr Romeril is also urging the committee to acknowledge that Pharmac’s ‘rationing by delay’ model is not fit for purpose when it comes to assessing these life and death type cancer drugs.

“People can’t wait. The Committee should also as a matter of priority oversee the establishment of a rapid access scheme based on the best models in place overseas. The goal of clinicians internationally is to turn myeloma into a chronic disease rather than a fatal one, and the key to that is tailoring combination treatment to each individual’s disease” said Dr Romeril.

Multiple myeloma is a deadly, complex blood cancer of malignant plasma cells which is now the second fastest growing blood cancer in the world. Every year New Zealand sees 400 new cases and 180 deaths from the disease.

The submission to the Health Select Committee follows a petition signed by over 2,000 signatories asking for funding for daratumumab, carfilzomib, lenalidomide (for maintenance), pomalidomide, elotuzumab and ixazomib.

Consultant Haematologists Dr Henry Chan and Dr Anup George, and multiple myeloma patient Joy Wilkie will also be appearing before the Health Select Committee to support the submission.

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