Lives lost as funding indecision continues

The longer the Government continues its hands-off approach to funding a ground-breaking melanoma treatment the more lives will be lost, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says.

“Keytruda was approved for use by Pharmac in September, but given a low funding priority. 

“That means terminally ill Kiwis who have been told by their oncologists they could benefit from a course of the drug are being forced to fundraise tens of thousands of dollars for treatment or go without.

“Latest Ministry of Health figuresshow melanoma was the second most common cancer in both males and females in 2013, with 2366 new cases registered that year. There were 354 deaths from melanoma in 2012.

“Based on that information an average 30 Kiwis die each month from melanoma, so funding Keytruda four months ago could have saved, or extended, the lives of up to 120 sufferers.

"Keytruda has been credited with saving many lives in Australia, the UK and the US, where it is funded.

“One patient who has contacted me sums it up like this: I am not the sort of person to ask for help to pay for the treatment as I was brought up if you need it you pay for it or you go without, but to know there is possible treatment out there that the Government will not fund or even offer a part payment towards the treatment is hard.

“It’s time the Government stopped prevaricating and armed Pharmac with what it needs to provide interim funding for these ground-breaking new drugs.

“If it can make changes to Pharmac through the TPPA it's hypocritical to not provide another mechanism for the agency to fund these medicines,” Annette King says.