It has been proposed by Pharmac, to hold a meeting regarding extension of funding for the cancer drug Herceptin that would allow the provision of drug to women with early breast cancer. Currently, funding can only be availed by patients with advanced breast cancer. Extension of the budget for the cancer from the existing $47 million to $77 million has been planned.
The company officials are much more bothered about the safety and efficacy of the anti-cancer drug that is being assessed, according to Dr Peter Moodie, Medical Director, Pharmac. He further stated that the company officials are being open minded about the issue and are really interested in the drug.
The authorization body, Medsafe is yet to approve the proposal of the Pharmac's Pharmacology Therapeutics Advisory Committee.
HER2 positive cancers, an aggressive form account for 30% of all breast cancers against which Herceptin has been shown to be effective. Although previous studies have been able to demonstrate a 46% improved survival rate in those who received the drug and a decreased recurrence rate, the cost constraint has limited widespread use of drug.
Libby Burgess, Chairwoman, Breast Cancer Advocacy Coalition is very hopeful that a lot of valuable lives can be saved by the investment. Most women in New Zealand face severe financial constraints to enable breast cancer treatment. In fact, some even go to the extent of mortgaging their house. Nearly 2500 women in New Zealand are being diagnosed with breast cancer every year.
Pharmac and Roche Products are locally supplying the anti-cancer drug in New Zealand. The pharmaceutical companies are closely working together to extend the available funding. A spokesman for Roche announced that the assessment process is being fast-tracked.