Pharmac eyes cancer drug after $39m boost

A $39 million boost to Pharmac's budget comes with the news a rival to advanced melanoma drug Keytruda has pole position for funding.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman made the pre-budget announcement today, saying the $39m increase was part of a $124m hike over four years, which would take drug-buying agency's budget to a record $850m.

Pharmac says the money will allow it to look at seven new drugs, including Bristol Myers Squibb's Opdivo, a treatment for advanced melanoma.

The potentially life-saving drug Opdivo comes as patients await a decision on whether Pharmac will fund Keytruda. Source: 1 NEWS

Although Pharmac has only been looking at the drug since March, it's clinical data indicated more certain survival data, chief executive Stefan Crausaz says.

It costs about $7800 to treat a patient with Opdivo over a fortnight.

He would not say whether it was cheaper than expensive rival Keytruda.

Around 350 people are expected to be treated with Opdivo if funding is approved.

Pharmac is also looking at funding Viekira Pak and Harvoni, Hepatitis C drugs which have cure rates of over 90 per cent and which will treat around 29,000 people each year.

The government has been under pressure to fund an advanced melanoma treatment and a petition seeking funding for Keytruda drew 54,000 signatures.

Source: ABC Australia

Lawyers of New Zealand: Stop your sloppy emails, please

If there is one thing that is going to sink New Zealand’s prospects in the mid to long-term future, it sure won’t be anything to do with a government stuffed-full of industry-friendly, buffoonish ministers avoiding the hard issues.

No siree. Nup. Instead, as I see it, a bigger problem is looming. It’s a major, but none of us have cottoned onto it yet, probably because many of us can’t afford to see lawyers for more than a 15 minute, $1500-a-time basic document signing.

Opponents took their chance during Question Time to hammer the Prime Minister over the role he played in his lawyer’s lobbying of the government. Source: 1 NEWS

But those who have, say, an offshore investment – or an offshore investment industry – to protect, are the victims of this continuous crime, perpetrated by the legal fraternity.

That is, our lawyers have a habit of making stuff up, and not only that, putting their damn-fool lies in sloppily-written emails.

I mean, if five years-plus of studying every technicality of the law can’t prepare you to brief officials in two cogent sentences, quit your damn post and take a job at Burger King already.

And that’s a message to all lawyers; to the best asset-protecting legal mind working for the Prime Minister downwards.

In fact, it’s aimed directly at the Prime Minister’s lawyer Ken Whitney. It’s emerged this week that it was Ken’s ambiguous, confusing email that’s dumped the Prime Minister in the excrement in a way that’s totally unfair.

Check it. Ken said: "We are concerned that there appears to be a sudden change of view by the IRD in respect of their previous support for the [foreign trusts] industry.

"I have spoken to the Prime Minister about this and he advised that the Government has no plans to change the status of the foreign trust regime."

The pressure stays on John Key over documents released by the Green Party over a review into foreign trusts. Source: Breakfast

Wow, way to misinterpret a conversation, Ken. What the Prime Minister actually said to his own personal lawyer who works as a lobbyist for foreign trust companies was “go and talk to junior minister Todd McClay about this, because I know jack sh*t about it”.

(He says he told McClay that he was referring his lawyer to him about it, but McClay didn’t remember that bit. Unsurprisingly! He’s a busy guy.)

That’s not to say John Key hasn’t previously championed New Zealand’s pioneering, world-beating position in the ‘legitimate’ world of tax-avoiding foreign trusts, and doesn’t mean he hasn’t his own intimate understanding and use of various financial instruments that maintain and grow taxed and untaxed wealth.

It just means he knew nothing much about a review underway by one of his own agencies into foreign trusts, is all.

So, to cadge a timeline from Hansard: Key’s personal lawyer writes to revenue Minister Todd McClay claiming that the Prime Minister had told him that foreign trusts would stay protected; shortly thereafter, Todd McClay immediately meets the Prime Minister’s personal lawyer and says that foreign trusts will be protected; and, finally, Todd McClay directs the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) to drop its existing review of foreign trusts.

True as it goes, but clearly all a misunderstanding; the fault of a mindless email written by someone who supposedly understands the English language, and the law.

Fix your email etiquette and basic comprehension please, New Zealand lawyers, before you cause any more uncomfortable questioning around Parliament.

1 NEWS Columnist Dita DeBoni Source: 1 NEWS


Bank raid latest: Police release pic of beanie wearing fugitive

Police have released a CCTV image of a man wanted for the raid of the Petone branch of the BNZ yesterday.

He is described as being of Maori or Pacific Island descent, with a stocky build.

He was wearing a light coloured top, dark pants, a black beanie, and had a bag slung over his shoulder.

Police say the man approached the counter of the bank on Jackson St and had a conversation with staff before presenting a note threatening them.

No weapon was seen or used in the robbery.

The male was handed an amount of cash and he left the bank on foot and walked east on Jackson Street. He is still being sought.

The man wanted over the aggravated robbery of the Petone BNZ.
The man wanted over the aggravated robbery of the Petone BNZ. Source: NZ Police