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Myeloma NZ Pleased To See Pharmac Funding Increase, But Time Will Tell If It Will Make A Difference For Myeloma Patients

“We are very pleased by the government’s announcement today of an increase in funding for Pharmac,” says Barbara Horne, Chair of Myeloma New Zealand. “This increase in funding is desperately needed given how relatively little New Zealand spends on medicines”.

“Myeloma is our second most common blood cancer. Despite many treatments being available overseas, it’s been ten years since we have had a new myeloma medicine funded in New Zealand. We hope the funding decision will lead to treatments like daratumumab and carfilzomib being funded. Applications for these treatments have been with Pharmac since November 2017 and August 2018 respectively, and patients are dying because they cannot access them”.

“We are very concerned the lack of Pharmac-funded treatments is impacting on Medsafe approved treatments. Despite the large number of myeloma treatments available overseas, only two other myeloma treatments are Medsafe approved in NZ. We put that down to Pharmac being a disincentive. Pharmaceutical companies are required go through a costly approval process only for the medicine to be unlikely to be funded by Pharmac, who seem to prefer to wait years for medicines to go off patent before it will fund them. The impact for patients is that even those who seek private treatment, including using medical insurance, are limited by what is registered with Medsafe”.

“Myeloma is a relapsing remitting disease. It will come back. When it does, patients need a new treatment or they will die. Overseas a number of treatments are available, yet in New Zealand we have few treatments - and those we have are outdated. We desperately need more treatments in New Zealand – these could make myeloma more like the chronic disease that it is in many other countries.”

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“Myeloma is New Zealand’s second most common blood cancer and there is a desperate need for modern and better medicines to be funded for the approximately 3000 myeloma patients. Patients are dying unnecessarily because they do not have access to treatments that are standard of care overseas and in private treatment in New Zealand. Myeloma New Zealand has been running our “Keep Us Living” campaign for almost two years to draw attention to the pitiful availability of funded medicines to treat this cancer. Australia already funds five more medicines than New Zealand – it’s heartbreaking for patients and families to know we are so far behind”.

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