We need a frontline drug for Melanoma

Pharmac’s latest refusal to fund Keytruda means thousands of melanoma sufferers are still without a front line drug, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.

“Pharmac must at least offer Keytruda as a temporary solution until more long-term data is available. At the moment it’s scandalous that people are dying because there is no effective treatment funded for advanced melanoma.

“Labour supports the Cancer Society’s view that the new drugs like Keytruda are a ‘quantum leap’ over anything now available to melanoma patients.

“We must restore equity into cancer treatment. We can no longer have a system where people mortgage their homes to prolong and save their lives.

“There has been no meaningful increase in the medicines budget. For the last five years Government spending on Pharmac has been virtually stagnant.

“It’s appalling a drug that New Zealand melanoma sufferers claim is leading to remissions in tumours, remains available to only those who are able to afford it,” says Annette King.