The Herald reports:
Labour leader Andrew Little said the findings from Pharmac made with the help of senior cancer doctors and the possibility of a similar drug becoming available did not mean Keytruda shouldn’t be funded.
“The evidence that is around, admittedly on a patient-by-patient basis here in New Zealand, those who have funded it for themselves, it has made a difference for at least some of them. …
Pharmac chief executive Steffan Crausaz, in an interview on TV3’s The Nation this weekend, said nine senior cancer doctors in New Zealand helped the agency review Keytruda.
“The committees have reviewed the evidence, and in their view Keytruda hasn’t been proven to help people live longer lives. It does have some effects on tumour size and tumour progression, and that’s important, but what they really want to see is whether it actually helps people live longer and live better.”
So Andrew Little knows better than nine senior cancer doctors. The Greens are right on this:
However, the Green Party has expressed disappointment in that position, saying politicians should not interfere with Pharmac’s decision-making, which is based on the best evidence available.
And it is not just a matter of giving Pharmac more money as Little claims:
Mr Crausaz said about 20 other drugs are in the high-priority category, meaning they would likely be funded before Keytruda if more money was available. They include medicines for infections, vaccines and other cancer drugs.
And these decisions should be made by Pharmac, not Andrew Little.