Powerful march and petition to Parliament: 16 October 2018

Women with breast cancer, their family, whanau and supporters are marching to Parliament on 16 October to present petitions to MPs – calling for the funding of breakthrough advanced breast cancer medicines Ibrance and Kadcyla.

The women and their supporters are joining together in numbers to make their voices heard. The Ibrance petition has more than 29,000 signatures and is still gaining support.  It calls on the Minister of Health Hon Dr David Clark and PHARMAC to work together with the petition signatories to fund the medicine. The Kadcyla petition has over 1,500 signatures and also asks for Dr Clark and PHARMAC to fund this life-extending medicine.

Petition organiser Terre Nicholson says Ibrance (also known as palbociclib) and Kadcyla (also known as T-DM1 or trastuzumab emtansine) are hailed as game changers for women with advanced breast cancer and can extend lives by years.

“Two years may not sound like much.  But it's literally a lifetime for us. We all have very important reasons to want extra time – time to spend with our family and other loved-ones. For mothers, it can mean helping children adapt and cope or that their toddlers will be old enough to remember them.

“It also means we're two years closer to a cure.  With rapid advances in research, a cure or something close to it may only be a few years away.  We want to be alive to see it.”

The flyer attached is available for anyone to use to spread the word about the march and petition - email it, print it, give it to people you know and to organisations you think might be interested.

Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition Chair Libby Burgess says women throughout the country with advanced breast cancer are raising their voices and demanding to be heard.

“It’s tragic that our vulnerable women have to march on Parliament to call for access to treatments that they would get as a matter of course in other developed countries. Recent research has shown that New Zealand women with this form of cancer receive fewer medicines that those in Australia, Canada and the UK, and that their lives are shortened on average to 16 months compared to 2 or 3 years overseas.

“These are medicines that make a tremendous difference to women’s lives and the lives of their families. All people with breast cancer should be given the treatment they need. New Zealanders are caring people; we must do better than this,” Libby says.

What you can do:

  • Tell everyone you know about this event
  • Join us at Parliament to present the petitions
  • Encourage your family, friends and supporters to come with us
  • Print the petition flyer to give to people you know (FLYER ATTACHED)
  • Get permission to put the flyer up in your workplace and local cafes

Plan for presentation of petitions – 16 October:

All times approximate

12.30pm:  Meet at Cenotaph by Parliament, Wellington

12.45 pm: Walk up to steps of Parliament, in front of Dick Seddon Statue, from Cenotaph

1.00 pm: Arrive at steps for a Mihi Whakatau

1.05 pm: Response by kaumatua

1.10 pm: Address by petition organiser Terre Nicholson – welcoming and thanking attendees

1.15 pm: Address by Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition Chair Libby Burgess – providing a perspective on medicines access in New Zealand compared to other countries

1.20 pm: Address by Wiki Mulholland – a whanau perspective

Terre, Wiki and Libby present the petitions

1.25 pm – 1.45 pm: Government and other parties respond

1.45 pm:  ENDS

The Petitions will be read in Parliament and referred to the Health Select Committee.

About Ibrance (palbociclib)

This medicine is for treating advanced oestrogen-receptor-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer. Preliminary clinical evidence for it was so strong that the United States Food and Drug Administration fast-tracked its use in 2015 in that country.

In New Zealand, Pfizer gained Medsafe registration for Ibrance in 2017 and applied for PHARMAC funding in February 2018.  A decision on funding is yet to be made.

Because there is no Government funding for the drug at this time, women are paying more than $5500 a month to fund the drug themselves in a desperate bid for more time with their families and in their communities.

How it works

Ibrance is given in combination with other medicines (either an aromatase inhibitor or fulvestrant). It works by interfering with certain proteins in the body (called kinases) and this helps to stop cancer cells from dividing and growing.

Most women diagnosed with advanced breast cancer every year will have hormone receptor positive, but HER2-negative breast cancer.

“Ibrance represents one of the most significant advances in treatment for women with this common form of breast cancer. It’s vital that this treatment is readily accessible to the hundreds of New Zealand women who could potentially benefit from it,” Libby says.

About Kadcyla (trastuzumab emtansine).

This drug is used in patients with HER2-positive advanced (or metastatic) breast cancer who have received prior therapy with Herceptin (trastuzumab) and a taxane either for:

  • early breast cancer and who relapsed within 6 months of completing the therapy
  • or who have received prior therapy for advanced breast cancer.

Kadcyla is available in New Zealand and Medsafe registered but is not yet publicly funded here, although it has been funded in Australia since 2015.

Roche applied to PHARMAC for Kadcyla funding in August 2017 and it was recommended for funding, but with low priority.

Medicines can remain on PHARMAC’s recommended list for months or years without progress. Women with breast cancer and BCAC hope the breakthrough nature of this medicine in extending the length and improving the quality of life of people with advanced breast cancer will see it funded in the near future.

How it works

Kadcyla (T-DM1) combines a chemotherapy drug, (DM1) that disrupts cell division, growth and functioning, with trastuzumab (T) which targets the DM1 to HER2 positive tumours.


27 Sept 2018





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