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Cancer patients forced to keep begging

Several hundred New Zealanders are missing out on potentially life-saving cancer treatment because of the Government’s failure to properly fund Pharmac, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says.

Pharmac has today announced it will not fund melanoma drug Keytruda, due to cost and insufficient clinical evidence of its effectiveness.

“However both Australia and the UK fund Keytruda. In the main trial Pharmac cites of patients being treated with it, one in three saw their tumours shrink or disappear completely.

“It is thought some 340 Kiwis each year could potentially benefit from Keytruda. Currently they are forced to beg for money on Givealittle.

“There are schemes in the UK to fund early access of these new ground-breaking cancer drugs. There is no reason we can’t do the same here.

“National is prepared to spend $26 million on a flag referendum, but not prepared to fund Pharmac the $11 million they needed this year to invest in new medicines.

“Melanoma is the fourth most common cancer in New Zealand. There are no other meaningful options for the treatment of advanced melanoma in this country.

“Today’s decision will be devastating to those who may be missing out on potentially life-saving drugs,” says Annette King.

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