$39 million more for Pharmac

Jonathan Coleman announced:

An extra $39 million will be invested in 2016/17 to enable to provide more New Zealanders with access to new medicines, Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says.

“Pharmac’s model for increasing subsidised medicines and treatments for New Zealanders is world class,” Dr Coleman says.

“This funding boost in Budget 2016 – an extra $124 million over four years -will mean that Pharmac can further increase access to new medicines, benefiting more New Zealanders.

“On top of the Government’s extra $39 million investment in Pharmac in 2016/17, $11 million will be injected into Pharmac’s annual budget by DHBs.

“Pharmac’s budget for 2016/17 will be a record $850 million – this means the Government has increased Pharmac’s budget by $200 million since 2008.”

Also NZ City reports:

Pharmac says the money will allow it to look at seven new drugs, including Bristol Myers Squibb’s Opdivo, a treatment for advanced melanoma where New Zealand now has the highest rate in the world.

Although Pharmac has only been looking at the drug since March, it’s clinical data indicated more certain survival data, chief executive Steffan Crausaz says.

It costs about $7800 to treat a patient with Opdivo over a fortnight.

He would not say whether it was cheaper than rival, Merck’s , which costs around $200,000 a year for each patient.

The government has been under pressure to fund an advanced melanoma treatment and a petition seeking funding for Keytruda drew 54,000 signatures.

There will be a consultation period, but the board could make its decisions by July.

Mr Crausaz believes that despite vocal support for Keytruda, people will be optimistic about Opdivo.

Studies showed 73 per cent of patients were alive after one year’s treatment, compared to 42 per cent with the current treatment.

Andrew Little wanted to over-ride Pharmac’s decision making, and instruct them to fund Keytruda. This shows why politicians should not be involved in such decisions. Little would have forced Pharmac to fund a drug far less effective than the one actually funded – basically because the drug company behind Keytruda was running a PR campaign to get funding for their drug.

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