12-month Herceptin treatment now available

  • Tony Ryall
Health

Health Minister Tony Ryall has welcomed the Prime Minister's confirmation that a full 12 month course of the breast cancer drug Herceptin is now available.

"Women with early breast cancer responsive to Herceptin will now have the option to access a one-year course of the cancer drug."

"We are extending funding for Herceptin to allow patients and their doctors to have a choice of a 12 months course. The nine-week treatment option also remains funded and available."

National's 100 day action plan included making publicly funded Herceptin available for 12 months, and today we are fulfilling that election commitment.

Mr Ryall said, "We expect that over time up to 300 women a year will benefit from the year-long course of Herceptin treatment. This is being funded from the extra $180 million this government plans to spend on pharmaceuticals over the next three years," he added.

Mr Ryall also announced that women who have paid for Herceptin treatment privately between 19 November 2008, when the Government was sworn in, and today can seek reimbursement from the Ministry of Health for the full cost of their treatment.

Patients currently receiving a privately funded course of 12 months Herceptin now have the option of completing the remainder of their treatment with a public provider, where it will be fully funded by the Government. Women may choose to continue receiving treatment privately, although the Government will meet only the cost of the drug until they have completed their treatment.  In this case, the costs of delivery will still have to be paid for privately.

Patients who recently completed a publicly funded nine-week treatment or recently discontinued a private 12 month course of Herceptin treatment may now be able to receive the balance of a 12 month course of treatment publicly. However, this is subject to their specialist's clinical judgment.

Mr Ryall acknowledged the assistance of former breast physician, Dr Jackie Blue MP in developing this policy.

Clinical guidance for implementing this funding policy and information for patients are available on:

http://www.moh.govt.nz/cancercontrol/