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Cancer Drug Deal Will Benefit More Patients

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Health Minister Tony Ryall has welcomed a cancer drug agreement between Pharmac and pharmaceutical company Roche that will enable more patients to get new cancer drugs, and more cancer patients overall to receive treatment. "Improving cancer treatment is a priority for the National Government, and it is pleasing to see our $60 million funding boost for medicines enabling significant new investments and widened access for cancer treatments, and helping Pharmac make this deal," says Mr Ryall. Pharmac has agreed to fund new lung cancer drug erlotinib (Tarceva) for people with advanced lung cancer, New Zealand's biggest cancer killer, and widen access to rituximab (Mabthera) and capecitabine (Xeloda) for patients with lymphoma, colon and rectal cancer.

"Erlotinib can be taken in tablet form at home, which means people with advanced lung cancer will no longer have to come into hospital for an infusion that can take several hours to complete and be quite difficult to tolerate. Capecitabine for colon and rectal cancer can also be taken orally. "

"These drugs make treatment easier on cancer patients and means more people with these cancers will be able to be treated. Since many of them will be taking the pills at home now, that will also free up resources for more cancer patients needing hospital treatment for other cancers."

The deal also includes reducing the price of Mycophenolate (Cellcept), an immunosuppressant used in transplantation, and widening its access.

"In the past year, extra Government funding combined with Pharmac's savings-related activity enabled Pharmac to fund 13 new medicines and increase access to another 17 medicines, benefiting more than 105,000 patients. And already this year Pharmac has funded 16 new medicines and widened access to another 17, benefiting an additional 350,000 patients over the next 12 months."

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