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PHARMAC Budget Under Spend a 'Crying Shame'

Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition (BCAC)


PHARMAC Budget Under Spend a 'Crying Shame'

PHARMAC's announcement this week of a $19.4 million budget under spend for 2006 has elicited cries of disbelief and anger from MPs, doctors and breast cancer groups alike. This continues a five year trend of budgetary under spending by PHARMAC that National MP Jackie Blue estimates now totals $73 million.

The Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition (BCAC) was outraged by the result which PHARMAC's Acting Chief Executive Matthew Brougham described as 'excellent'.

'Almost $20 million of taxpayers' money is sitting in the bank while women are dying for lack of drugs,' said BCAC Chair, Libby Burgess. 'What does that say about PHARMAC? PHARMAC have said that if they spend money on Herceptin, other people will miss out. In light of this under spending, the overused "not enough money" argument ceases to hold water as does the "if we give you this drug, others will suffer" line. This surplus could go a long way towards funding Herceptin for women with early stage HER2 positive breast cancer.'

New Zealand spends only $195 per person per year on pharmaceuticals while Australia spends $420. 'A New Zealander will receive only 45% of the pharmaceutical care an Australian will,' said Ms Burgess. 'This announcement from PHARMAC suggests we may be getting even less! What we have here in New Zealand is rationing of health care. It is simply unbelievable that the Acting CEO of PHARMAC can call that 'excellent' when people are crying out for medicines. It's enough to make you weep.'

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Australian Medical Oncologist Nicole McCarthy, in Auckland this weekend for a breast health conference, said it was time New Zealand caught up with the rest of the developed world. 'People in New Zealand are missing out on too many medicines,' said Ms McCarthy. 'Such reported under spending should not be a source of pride - it's a crying shame.'

About the Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition
www.breastcancer.org.nz

The Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition (BCAC) was formed in November, 2004. Twelve New Zealand breast cancer organisations came together at a forum to create one group, presenting a unified voice to call for change, improvement and innovation on behalf of all New Zealand women experiencing breast cancer.

BCAC now has fourteen member organisations and is currently working on five major initiatives: to ensure consistent, high quality detection and treatment of breast cancer throughout New Zealand by promoting the development and implementation of evidence-based best practice guidelines; to support the prompt and effective implementation of the extended age breast-screening programme (45 to 69); to inform and advocate for improved access to breast cancer treatment drugs; to research and promote the provision of professional psychosocial services for breast cancer patients and their whanau, family, friends and supporters; to identify and promote breast cancer issues for Māori and Pacific Island women

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