Health Minister Jonathan Coleman has conceded the Government was wrong to override Pharmac and fund breast cancer drug Herceptin in 2008, as it comes under continued pressure to step in over “game-changing” melanoma drug Keytruda.
Keytruda is the brand name for Pembrolizumab, a biologic drug for terminal melanoma patients that has produced promising results in early clinical trials.
But Pharmac has described Keytruda as a low priority option for funding, saying there is inconclusive data on its effectiveness.
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman has declined to intervene over Keytruda, despite the incoming National Government making a similar decision with Herceptin when it came to power in 2008.
Asked by TV3’s Paul Henry whether overriding Pharmac on Herceptin was “the right thing to do”, Coleman said: “I don’t think it was actually, and I think history has shown that.
“The research shows that nine weeks which were funded previously is actually just as good as 52 weeks, but I think lessons have been learned.”
So it was a fairly expensive bribe which possibly didn’t even improve health outcomes. Hopefully the lesson has been learnt.