Patients wanting access to groundbreaking drugs that are still being tested would get Government funding if Labour gets into power.
Opposition leader Andrew Little said “by and large” he didn’t have an issue with Pharmac, the national drug purchaser, but he was in favour of an early-access funding scheme, similar to the United Kingdom.
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman has ruled out providing early funding for new drugs where results appear to be promising, but there may not be sufficient data to justify full funding.
Green Party health spokesman Kevin Hague criticised Little for his comments that politicians should get involved in decisions around what drugs Pharmac funds.
Hague said it was a “shame” that Little said Labour would fund Keytruda, a potentially life-saving treatment for melanoma sufferers.
“Political decision-making on medicines a very bad idea,” he posted on Twitter.
I agree. I never agreed with National’s promise to fund a longer dose of Herceptin when Pharmac wouldn’t, and likewise don’t think Labour’s promise to fund Keytruda is a good idea.
They both play into the hands of large multinational pharmaceutical companies who learn that whipping up public support for a drug is a better method than convincing scientists and doctors that the benefits of a drug outweigh the costs.
2,300 get melanoma a year in NZ. This drug costs $150,000. So Andrew Little has just promised $345 million a year for this one promise. He’s promising to spend as much on this one drug as 40% of the overall budget for all other drugs.
UPDATE: Might only be used for those at Stage IV, but that is still 330 a year and an extra $50 million.