7 Aug 2008

Pharmac turns down 12-month funding of Herceptin

4:18 pm on 7 August 2008

State drug-buying agency Pharmac has turned down funding of a 12-month course of the breast cancer drug Herceptin.

At the direction of the High Court, Pharmac consulted and reviewed its decision to fund a nine-week plan for women, instead of a year-long course which is standard overseas.

The drug agency says it has carried out a fresh review of the science and other information and does not believe there would be any additional benefit in the longer treatment.

It says this will remain open to review and funding for the nine-week course will continue.

Pharmac chief executive Matthew Brougham says it has carried out an extensive investigation but has decided once again to decline funding for a 12-month course of Herceptin.

The drug is already fully funded for 250 women on a nine-week treatment regime, which will continue.

Mr Brougham says it is not about cost but science, and Pharmac does not believe that the year-long plan offers additional health benefits. He says the decision is responsible, reasonable and fair.

Mr Brougham says cancer and other clinical leaders have re-examined the issue carefully. He says for the 12 months to be funded, there would have to be health gains not offered with the shorter treatment, which also could not be achieved through other medicines.

Pharmac received 300 submissions on its refusal of funding for 12 months.