Parliament’s Health Select Committee has announced that it has “opened a briefing” on PHARMAC funding and patient access to drugs. The committee says this will allow it to gather information on the wider issue of drug funding, and decide on any further steps.

The announcement follows the presentation by Metavivors Wiki Mulholland and Terre Nicholson of petitions to Parliament calling for funding of two medicines for advanced breast cancer, Ibrance and Kadcyla, and also the presentation by Wiki’s husband Malcolm Mulholland of a formal letter calling for an independent review of PHARMAC.

The committee says it has resolved to hear evidence on the petition from the Ministry of Health with input from PHARMAC. When the committee decides it has gathered enough information to make a recommendation, it will report to Parliament, it says.

Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition chairperson Libby Burgess says: “It is imperative that PHARMAC is externally reviewed.  History shows us that navel gazing by PHARMAC and the Ministry unsurprisingly leads them to the conclusion that everything is just fine. Meanwhile New Zealand patients are suffering and dying needlessly through lack of access to effective modern medicines. Time is precious for women with advanced breast cancer. Urgent action must be taken to fund the vital medicines offered across the developed world. The grindingly slow pace of PHARMAC’s opaque decision processes is a national disgrace.”

PHARMAC has never been reviewed in its 25 year history.

10 Dec 2018

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