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National party cancer promise a step in the right direction

Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition media release, 28 July 2019

Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition (BCAC) welcomes the announcement that if elected National would set up an independent cancer agency to ensure every New Zealander gets high-quality cancer care and to eliminate post code inequities.

Establishment of a cancer drugs fund with an additional $50M per year is also a step in the right direction, but falls well short of what is needed. To obtain the breast cancer drugs that NZ currently lacks would cost $30 to 40M per year alone. To meet the needs of all cancer patients, PHARMAC’s current $220M per year spend on cancer medicines needs to be at least doubled.

Thanks to the fabulous work of Southland farmer and bowel cancer patient Blair Vining, whose petition calling for a new cancer agency attracted 140,000 signatures, awareness among politicians and the public of NZ’s cancer care crisis is rising.

“Public pressure to fix our broken cancer care system is building and won’t go away any time soon,” says BCAC Chair Libby Burgess. It’s great to hear the National Party leader say ‘New Zealanders shouldn’t have to set up GiveALittle pages to stay alive and that they will not stand by and watch when there is the opportunity to do more’.

In August, BCAC will be one of several patient groups presenting their petitions to the Health Select Committee, calling for funding of vital medicines across a range of diseases. BCAC is calling for access to all the breast cancer medicines listed in the European treatment guidelines that oncologists use.

“Without funded access to these, NZ women with advanced breast cancer face medical bankruptcy and shortened lives,” says Libby.

BCAC’s latest petition builds on the work of Metavivors, a group of women with advanced breast cancer who told their personal stories to the Health Select Committee earlier this year and asked for vital medicines Kadcyla and the CDK4/6 inhibitor Ibrance to be funded.

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