Children cancer drugs no longer guaranteed funding

RNZ reports:

Yesterday, RNZ revealed that Pharmac is likely to end the blanket provision of child cancer drugs.

Pharmac said it had long viewed the special exemption for child cancer drugs as “inconsistent” but it was jolted into finally addressing the issue in response to a discrimination claim taken under the Human Rights Act.

In the claim, the regulator was questioned over why it was funding all child cancer drugs but would not fund Spinraza for about 35 children with spinal muscular atrophy, a deadly genetic condition.

It said no final decisions had been made but the most likely outcome of its review would be to bring child cancer drugs into the normal Pharmac process. …

Children’s Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft called Pharmac’s chief executive yesterday to express his concern.

“I don’t want a situation to descend into playing one illness off against the other. And children, with their illnesses, being bargaining chips when they’re facing life-threatening conditions,” he told RNZ.

“All children in New Zealand, surely, can have access to lifesaving treatment. That must be the starting point.”

However, Little told Morning Report that was a “really unfortunate characterisation” by the commissioner.

“I would’ve expected better frankly from him. If he knows an organisation is under investigation by the Human Rights Commission for not acting consistently with the Human Rights Act and if there is then a finding that they are not, then they have an obligation to be compliant with the Human Rights Act, and it is not for the Children’s Commission to lob in his own grenade to sort of somehow say it should be different. “

So Little is attacking the Children’s Commissioner because he doesn’t want there to be any doubt over the funding of cancer drugs for children.

If there is an inconsistency with the Human Rights Act, then Little can legislate for that. Hell if they can ram through abolishing referenda on Maori wards in a few days, they should be able to legislate in favour of guaranteed funding of drugs for children with cancer.

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