Review highlights NZ’s poor access to cancer medicines

The latest review of New Zealand’s access to new and innovative medicines presents a damning picture of underfunding for cancer medicines.

New Zealand's Medicines Landscape 2015 has just been published by Medicines New Zealand, along with a specific examination of cancer medicines called Cancer in New Zealand.

The reviews find that New Zealand funds only 14 per cent of the highly effective medicines available for the eight most common cancers.
They also note that for some cancers New Zealand funds no specific cancer medicines.

BCAC chairperson, Libby Burgess, says sadly the report confirms that New Zealanders have much lower access to new and innovative cancer medicines compared to many other developed countries.
“This report is a sad indictment on New Zealand’s commitment to the health and care of those with cancer.  We’re missing out on so many vital and life-saving treatments and the end result is that our people die before they should.”

The review also showed that out of 13 developed countries, New Zealand had the lowest ranking for access to cancer medicines. Furthermore, it showed that Australia’s cancer survival rate at five years is four per cent higher than New Zealand’s cancer survival rate.
New Zealanders are also waiting longer than other countries for medicines to be funded. The report found that Pharmac’s Pharmacology and Therapeutics Advisory Committee has made more than 100 recommendations for 81 medicines that are yet to be funded.

Libby says this is disappointing.

“If Pharmac’s own advisory committee is recommending that medicines should be funded then this means that they believe they have value for patients.  We just can’t understand why New Zealanders are missing out on these crucial medicines.”

Overall, New Zealand invested far less in medicines than other similar countries.  New Zealand invested around nine per cent of its health budget on medicines compared with the OECD average of 16 per cent.

Libby says BCAC will raise the issue of medicines access with the Minister of Health later this year.

Read more from Medicines NZ in New Zealand's Medicines Landscape 2015 and Cancer in New Zealand.

14 April 2016

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