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PHARMAC to fund new cancer drugs to improve treatment

From 1 December PHARMAC will fund alectinib (Alecensa) for ALK-positive advanced non-small cell lung cancer and trastuzumab emtansine (Kadcyla) for HER-2 positive metastatic breast cancer.


PHARMAC to fund new cancer drugs to improve treatment
“These new drugs will help around 420 people, including people living with advanced cancer,” David Clark said. Image Credit: IANS

Confirmation that PHARMAC will fund two new cancer drugs is further evidence of the good progress the Government is making to improve the treatment of New Zealand's leading cause of death, Health Minister David Clark says.

From 1 December PHARMAC will fund alectinib (Alecensa) for ALK-positive advanced non-small cell lung cancer and trastuzumab emtansine (Kadcyla) for HER-2 positive metastatic breast cancer. A new treatment for multiple sclerosis, ocrelizumab (Ocrevus), is also being funded and access to respiratory disease treatment pirfenidone (Esbriet) is being widened.

"These new drugs will help around 420 people, including people living with advanced cancer," David Clark said.

'I'm advised these medicines will be paid for out of the $40 million extra that the Government invested in PHARMAC in the 2019 Budget (over four years). It is great to see that investment making a real difference in people's lives.

"After years of underfunding by the previous government, we've made cancer care and control a major focus.

Key cancer care initiatives include:

Investment in 12 states of the art linear accelerators for radiation treatment – including plans to put machines in Hawke's Bay, Taranaki and Northland for the first time.

Release of a Cancer Action Plan and establishment of a Cancer Control Agency to ensure that all New Zealanders have access to the same high quality of care no matter who they are, or where they live.

$60 million boosts to PHARMAC's funding announced last month to provide even more medicines for more people.

"PHARMAC is currently consulting on three more cancer drugs - olaparib (Lynparza) for ovarian cancer, fulvestrant (Faslodex) for breast cancer and venetoclax (Venclexta) for chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

"Medicines are critical but are only one part of cancer care and control. Our plan is comprehensive and covers the full spectrum – from prevention and screening to radiation treatment and palliative care. We're also investing in our health workforce – with a record number of doctors and nurses in our DHBs.

"It will take time to modernize our approach to cancer care and control and improve survival rates, but today signifies good progress on the delivery of our plan," David Clark said.

(With Inputs from New Zealand Government Press Release)


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