Labour supports early access scheme for Pharmac

An early access scheme for new drugs, will give Pharmac a new tool in the fight against cancer, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.

“The Cancer Society’s proposal would go a long way to solving the current impasse over drugs like Keytruda. 

“I called upon Jonathan Coleman to set up an early access scheme in December last year. This is not about compromising Pharmac. It is about giving the agency another tool to finance new life saving drugs without compromising its position.

“A ring fenced budget is a sound way of making sure Pharmac has the means to provide new generation medicines. In Government Labour will look at the amount that will be needed.

“We also support the idea that pharmaceutical companies should be challenged about pricing policies around the world. We think the Cancer Society is right in asking the companies to price their medicines on their value rather than the profits they provide to their shareholders.

“The proposal that Pharmac’s cost benefit analysis should capture the true costs of a new medicine for the whole health system rather than just the agency’s budget would seem to be a game changer.

“This is an audacious proposal that could restore equity around the provision of drugs like Keytruda. At the moment people with advanced Melanoma have to pay around $10,000 a month for treatment. If they can’t afford it – they don’t get treated. This will break that cruel stalemate.

“I just hope that the Minister of Health listens,” says Annette King.