20 Aug 2016

NZ lagging in melanoma drug funding - study

7:12 pm on 20 August 2016

New Zealand is still far behind Australia and the United Kingdom when it comes to funding of melanoma drugs, according to a new study.

A bright  yellow and aqua sphere, representing the immune system, sits alongside a brown cancer sphere with little goemetric shapes between indicating the drug's action

Manufacturer's illustration of how the new melanoma drug, Keytruda, stops cancer cells hiding from the immune system Photo: Supplied

Earlier this month, Pharmac announced it would fully fund Keytruda from 1 September.

But last week, a woman with stage-four melanoma told the Health Select Committee Pharmac could have saved hundreds of lives if it had moved faster to fund Keytruda and Opdivo.

The paper - published by the Medical Journal - said although more funding was now available, the way the funding decisions were made was still a problem.

One of its authors, Rosalie Stephens, a Melanoma New Zealand trustee, said there had been so much suffering and death, because of the time it took for basic drugs to be subsidised.

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