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Glivec - Why Is The Minister Silent?

19 August 2002

Glivec - Why Is The Minister Silent?

Eighty New Zealanders need Glivec to live yet the Health Minister remains silent on funding Pharmac to purchase the drug, says National's Health spokesperson, Dr Lynda Scott.

"When Annette King became Minister, she told Pharmac to fund Interferon for multiple sclerosis. The evidence of an improvement of life for patients using Interferon for muscular sclerosis is far less than that for patients using Glivec for myeloid leukaemia. Yet the Minister is silent about Glivec.

"The question must be asked - why will she not fund Pharmac to enable it to purchase Glivec?

"Glivec does not just improve lives, it saves lives. Patients with myeloid leukaemia currently use Interferon, at $35,000 a year, or have a bone marrow transplant. They are also dependent on many other drugs. As the disease progresses, they are unable to continue to work. Glivec, on the other hand, may cost $60,000 a year, but patients can return to a full and active life.

"Professor Peter Browett, the Auckland Medical School leukaemia specialist who cares for trial patients on Glivec, is questioning whether we still have a first-world health service. He deserves an answer from the Minister.

"So, too, do the 80 patients who are being denied Glivec. After all, Annette King has said that the buck stops with her, " says Dr Scott.

Ends

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