More progress on cancer medicines

PHARMAC’s decision to fund a new leukaemia treatment means three new cancer medicines have now been funded so far this year, Health Minister David Clark says.

From 1 December venetoclax (Venclexta) will be funded for people living with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. 

Just last month funding was also confirmed for alectinib (Alecensa) for ALK positive advanced non-small cell lung cancer and trastuzumab emtansine (Kadcyla) for HER-2 positive metastatic breast cancer.

“Cancer is New Zealand’s leading cause of death, and improving our cancer care and control is an ongoing challenge. But we are moving in the right direction,” David Clark said.

“This new treatment, venetoclax, is proven to give people more time without their leukaemia getting worse, and has improved overall survival rates compared with currently funded treatments. 

“It will make a real difference to the quality of life of around 150 people and their families in the next year and more than 200 the following year.

“Improving access to cancer medicines is just one part of our comprehensive approach to improve cancer care and control in New Zealand, covering everything from prevention and screening, to radiation treatment, surgery, medical oncology and palliative care.”

Key cancer care initiatives announced this year include:

“Modernising our approach to cancer care and control is a major undertaking and will take time, but we are making positive progress for the people of New Zealand,” David Clark said.

NOTE: PHARMAC has recently consulted on funding for two further cancer medicines, olaparib (Lynparza) for ovarian cancer and fulvestrant (Faslodex) for breast cancer. A final decision from the PHARMAC Board on these medicines is expected in coming weeks.