Much of the money the drug buying agency Pharmac saves over the next four years will not go into buying new drugs, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.
“$39.2 million of savings will be spent on covering the underfunding of services like residential care for National Disability support.
“This worrying re-prioritisation of money has been revealed in a release of Budget documents.
“At present Pharmac manages the combined pharmaceutical budget on behalf of all New Zealand’s District Health Boards.
“This misuse of funds has been exacerbated by the Government’s decision to cut the health budget by $1.7 billion.
“It is even more concerning when Pharmac will not fund Keytruda as a first-line treatment for advanced melanoma while other countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom fund the drug.
“Pharmac’s refusal runs counter to the Cancer Society’s belief that such new generation drugs are a ‘quantum leap’ over current melanoma treatments.
“Labour believes that Pharmac must fund Keytruda on a temporary basis until more data is available. Currently, there is no alternative treatment available in New Zealand for patients with advanced melanoma,” says Annette King.