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'I'm sad and scared' - breast cancer sufferer gives emotional plea to select committee over funding

A breast cancer sufferer has made an emotional plea to the Health Select Committee today.

Wiki Mulholland wants Pharmac to fund the Ibrance medicine and help carry out more research into breast cancer.

"I’m sad and scared that here in New Zealand we are so far behind the rest of the world in funding modern medicines.

"Women diagnosed with advanced breast cancer in New Zealand have a life expectancy of 16 months, that could mean that I have my angel wings in October next year," Ms Mulholland said through tears.

In October, women with breast cancer and their supporters marched to Parliament calling for Pharmac to fund two drugs for those in the advanced stages of the disease.

More than 29,000 signatures were delivered, calling on Health Minister David Parker and Pharmac to fund the Ibrance medicine, as well as more than 1500 signatures calling for funding of another drug called Kadcyla.

Women taking Ibrance at the moment are paying more than $5500 a month for the drug, BCCA reported.

Ms Mulholland organised the march and said it was a chance for women with advanced breast cancer and their whānau and friends to be heard.

"We want Pharmac to do better. We think whether you’re rich or poor, it shouldn’t matter, you should have access to the life-extending drugs that you need," she said.

Ms Mulholland said the number of signatures gathered was heartening.

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March organiser Wiki Mulholland says many stage four breast cancer patients turned out, while Labour's Louisa Wall says the funding system will be scrutinised. Source: 1 NEWS

"No one’s perfect so I’m hoping that from the message that we put out today that Pharmac are able to take a look at themselves, to be able to maybe put in a review and see is there a better way to do this - is there a way that all New Zealanders can access what they need instead of just the rich or some."

Labour MP Louisa Wall thanked those who delivered the petition on behalf of the Health Select Committee.

A funding application was received for Kadcyla in August last year.

In February this year, a funding application was received for Ibrance.

Last year, the Pharmacology and Therapeutics Advisory Committee recommended funding Kadcyla was a low priority.

Pharmac asked the Cancer Treatments subcommittee for further advice on the drug, as well as advice on Ibrance, in September.

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Wiki Mulholland wants Pharmac to fund the Ibrance medicine and more research efforts into breast cancer. Source: 1 NEWS


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