National got it wrong

Stuff reports:

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman has conceded the Government was wrong to override and fund breast cancer drug 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 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.

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