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Breakthrough melanoma drug Keytruda is funded in Australia, its ‘available’ in NZ – but it will cost you $300,000
New Zealand drug agency Pharmac has been forced to counter allegations that Australians have better access to cancer medications than New Zealanders.
A report earlier this year showed that Australians had a lower death rate from cancer than New Zealanders.
Pharmac commissioned its own research to find out why and concluded Kiwis have “access to the best cancer medicines available” (NB. Pharmac decides what drugs should be funded and “access” doesn’t include ability to pay/cost to patients). http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/288867/drug-company-defends-cancer-medication
For example, the Australian Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) lists the breakthrough drug Keytruda for the treatment of advanced melanoma. There are approximately 100 cancer-treating drugs available through the PBS costing $1.5 billion per year, including Tafinlar, Yervoy and Mekinist. Each one of those treatments would cost patients in the region of $100,000 without the government subsidy.
Keytruda, Yervoy, Tafinlar and Mekinist have not been approved by Pharmac in NZ.
The only funded treatment available for melanoma is NZ is chemotherapy, which is considered obsolete by international standards. This is ridiculous when you consider that NZ and Australia have the highest rates of melanoma in the world.
Jeff Patterson needs up to $10,000 every three weeks to buy Keytruda in NZ. Please give a little here https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/rise4patt/
Kiwi melanoma patient, 22 year old Jeff Patterson, needs to raise $300,00 to buy Keytruda to “keep him alive”. The drug is still ‘under consideration’ by Pharmac and could be funded in a couple of years even though Medsafe approved it for use earlier this year. Unfortunately Jeff Patterson can’t hang around to find out.
Pharmac has a subsidy budget of a mere $795 million for ALL its drugs and covers medicines prescribed by GPs and DHB hospitals. Many treatments are not released to Kiwis until they’re available in generic form (when they’re a lot cheaper) meaning there is often a delay of 10 years or more until new medications become available.
But things are set to get worse for Kiwis. Opponents of the TPPA say US corporations are hoping to weaken Pharmac’s ability to get inexpensive, generic medicines by forcing New Zealanders to pay for brand name drugs.
Doctors and organisations such as Medicins Sans Frontieres have expressed concern. The New Zealand Government denies the claims; Trade Negotiations Minister Tim Groser saying opponents of the deal are “fools” who are “trying to “wreck this agreement” (source https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pharmac) it is easier to make ad hom attacks than address the issue.
In addition to the cancer medication issue, Kiwis are having to travel to Australia for oncology treatment that is unavailable in New Zealand. It is also known that NZ has a shortage of oncologists and many are deeply dissatisfied with the level of care they’re able to provide to patients.
In 2007, the Cancer Workforce Stocktake and Needs Assessment identified a range of issues for the different specialist and generalist workforces involved in cancer control. It reported that there werel insufficient medical oncologists to meet either workload or population-based benchmarks. The Workforce Stocktake recommended more detailed investigation be undertaken, particularly of issues affecting medical oncologist recruitment and retention.
One example of this is the Gynae-Oncology shortage, which renders NZ’s level of service ‘vulnerable” according to the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists
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For more about NZ’s ‘world class health system’ see our Wiki Page