Two new cancer drugs to be funded by Pharmac

Two treatments for breast cancer and ovarian cancer will now be funded in New Zealand.

A file image of a doctor in a hospital reading a chart. Source: Pexels

The drugs are Fulvestrant for breast cancer and Olaparib for ovarian cancer. They are being funded by PHARMAC.

It brings the total funded cancer medicine count to five this year.

Funding has already been granted for the advanced lung cancer treatment alectinib, advanced breast cancer treatment kadycla and venetoclax for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.

Health Minister David Clark says the Government has made improving cancer care and control a long-term priority.

“Cancer is a terrible disease, and I know these new drugs will be a welcome treatment option for many people.

The announcement coincides with an update from PHARMAC. From January 1 next year, suppliers can also apply to PHARMAC for funding of cancer medicines at the same time as they’re assessed by Medsafe.

“That could speed up PHARMAC’s assessment process by as much as 12-15 months,” said Mr Clark.

But the Cancer Society isn't sold. 

Dr Chris Jackson, medical director of the organisation says the announcement to speed up processess will not help one more person get better access to cancer drugs.

"PHARMAC have always been able to review medicines without prior MEDSAFE review, or outside their MEDSAFE indication," says Mr Jackson. 

"It is great that PHARMAC acknowledge that their processes need to be sped up – and we agree – but this announcement won’t achieve that."