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Otago couple cycling with a coffin to Parliament in appeal for treatment funding

An Otago mum and dad set off on a tandem bike ride to Parliament yesterday, with a coffin and petition in tow.

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Julian and Camilla Cox are inspired by their 19-year-old daughter, who has cystic fibrosis. Source: 1 NEWS

They're calling on the Government to double Pharmac's current drug-buying budget, on behalf of their teenage daughter and thousands of Kiwis who suffer chronic illnesses.

Yesterday was day one of Julian and Camilla Cox's three-week journey to the capital. It's tough going, but they say they've been left with no choice.

"When you've got someone you love and you see they're suffering, you'd do anything you could to stop that," Mr Cox told 1 NEWS.

Their 19-year-old daughter Rachael has cystic fibrosis and a drug that could help her isn't available in New Zealand.

Mr Cox says these are "life-transforming drugs".

"We need them now because they don't reverse what's been done, but they'll stop deterioration that goes on with cystic fibrosis."

While Rachael's disease is relatively controlled at the moment, she needs access to modern drugs to ensure her lungs don't deteriorate - and to stay alive.

She told 1 NEWS it would change her life.

"Cystic fibrosis is a progressive condition and this drug could stop it," she says.

"And living with a progressive illness is scary cause you don't know about the future, but it'd change my life.

"I wouldn't just have to live until my next physio and keep myself healthy and alive."

It's a bold and confronting campaign, but one they hope will benefit thousands of Kiwis who suffer from chronic illnesses.

"It makes me angry. It's bad enough to have children that might die before I do," Ms Cox told 1 NEWS.

Inside the 50kg coffin lies a petition calling for the Government to conduct an external reform of Pharmac and double their $1 billion budget.

Set up by Patient Voice Aotearoa, it's already gathered 25,000 signatures.

"I think it's important the public realise Pharmac can't fix itself," Patient Voice Aotearoa's Malcolm Mulholland told 1 NEWS.

"Only the Government can fix Pharmac and give it the cash injection it needs in order to service the health need of the population."

The Cox's will be stopping at spots along the way to gather more signatures, with the aim to be on Parliament's forecourt on January 22.