New Zealand Labour Party

Melanoma deaths could be avoided by an early access scheme


The tragic death of Dunedin’s Graeme Dore from advanced Melanoma underlines the cruelty of this Government in promising a treatment but delaying for months, says Labour’s Health Spokesperson Annette King. 

“Graeme was diagnosed with Melanoma last year. He used his retirement funds to pay for the drug Trametinib but when his doctor tried to prescribe Opdivo, he was told that he would have had to wait until July 1.

“Labour would have solved this with an early access scheme for drugs like Opdivo and Keytruda when there is no funded alternative. Graeme’s death is doubly sad as I called on Jonathan Coleman to set up such a scheme back in December. 

“We cannot justify the deaths of people who are forced into a waiting game while the Government follows its planned Budget day timetable of announcements. 

“The whole debate over the new generation of Melanoma drugs also raises concerns about how the funding of Pharmac has been virtually frozen. 

“Last year saw the lowest investment in new medicines by Pharmac for six years. 

“It’s clear that funding a drug for Melanoma was at the bottom of the priority list for Pharmac. 

“This is just typical of a Government that has cut health funding by $1.7 billion dollars. Pharmac now faces new demands for new medicines and the big question is whether they will be funded next year,“ says Annette King.