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Lung Cancer Drug Now Funded

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Lung Cancer Drug Now Funded

Wellington, Sept 3 NZPA - People with advanced lung cancer could find it much easier to be treated at home with Pharmac announcing an oral cancer drug will now be funded.

As of October 1, the oral drug erlotinib (tarceva) will be funded for people with advanced lung cancer.

The funding is part of an agreement between Pharmac and pharmaceutical company Roche Products.

Tarceva is a second-line treatment following chemotherapy which extends survival and improves quality of life -- but the patient has to be quite well to be able to take the drug in the first instance.

Pharmac medical director Dr Peter Moodie said the funding continued a trend of cancer treatments moving from in-hospital infusions to pills that people could take at home.

"We expect that, since erlotinib...[is] easier to take than the current alternative treatments, more people overall will end up being treated for advanced lung this is a step forward in treatment."

Lung cancer kills more 1500 people each year in New Zealand and is the leading cause of cancer death for men and second leading cause for women.

Pharmac expected around 100 people each year would benefit from the drug being funded.

As part of the agreement access for the lymphoma, colon and rectal cancer drugs, rituximab and capecitabine, would be widened and an immunosuppressant drug, mycophenolate, used in transplants and some auto-immune diseases would be reduced in price and funded.

Health Minister Tony Ryall said the agreement would enable more patients to get new cancer drugs and overall cancer treatment.

"These drugs make treatment easier on cancer patients and means more people with these cancers will be able to be treated."

As many patients would be able to take the pills at home it will also free up resources patients needing hospital treatment for other cancers, he said.

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