Poor report card on access to medicines, especially cancer medicines

BCAC says a new report highlights how desperately poor access to new and innovative medicines is in New Zealand.

The Medicines NZ Medicines Landscape 2017 report finds that New Zealand comes last out of 20 comparable OECD countries for access to publicly-funded new medicines.

The report says this means more than 230,000 patients in New Zealand are currently waiting for access to medicines that are not yet approved for public funding in this country.

The report highlights at least 80 medicines that are deemed to have a clinical benefit for patients and which have been recommended for public funding, but are not yet funded by the Government’s drug buying agency PHARMAC.

A number of these medicines are treatments for cancer, including breast cancer. 

BCAC chair, Libby Burgess, says there are four breast cancer medicines on the medicines “waiting list”.

“It’s very sad reading this report because it highlights just how poor our access to new and innovative medicines is in this country. Not only are there four breast cancer medicines on the waiting list but there are several others we want and need that haven’t got far enough through the process to have made it onto the list.

“What that means in real terms is that thousands of New Zealanders are not able to take medicines that could vastly improve their health and their lives.

“I really hope the Government takes note of this report and commits to investing more money in medicines because that will save Kiwi lives,” she says.

The report shows that it takes nearly 520 days to fund a medicine in New Zealand, whereas in the UK it will take a mere 134 days.

Medicines NZ chairperson, Dr Leigh Mathias, says New Zealand is dragging its feet and needs to change its drug funding model now.

“I believe patients need to have equitable access to the right medicines at the right time. It’s time to address our inequity with the world, improve patient well-being and start reaping the cost-saving benefits of modern medicines,” she says.

You can read the full Medicines NZ report here: http://www.medicinesnz.co.nz/assets/Documents/Medicines-Landscape-2017.pdf

Note: BCAC has recently re-applied to PHARMAC to provide funding for nab-paclitaxel (Abraxane), on the waiting list since 2010 and fulvestrant (Faslodex), on the list since 2006. Other medicines currently delayed in PHARMAC’s consideration processes are trastuzumab emtansine (Kadcyla) and palbociclib (Ibrance).

24 May 2018


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