20 Aug 2016

Study targets Pharmac drug-screening model

9:13 am on 20 August 2016

A new study into how melanoma drugs are funded says New Zealand is still far behind Australia and the United Kingdom.

A bright  yellow and aqua sphere, representing the immune system, sits alongside a brown cancer sphere with little goemetric shapes between indicating the drug's action

Manufacturer's illustration of how the new melanoma drug, Keytruda, stops cancer cells hiding from the immune system Photo: Supplied

Last week, a woman with stage-four melanoma told the Health Select Committee Pharmac could have saved hundreds of lives if it had moved faster to fund Keytruda and Opdivo.

A paper published by New Zealand Medical Journal said that although more funding was now available, the way funding decisions are made was still a problem.

Melanoma New Zealand trustee Rosalie Stephens is one of the study's authors and said models similar to Australia's and Britain's should be adopted.

"There's just been so much distress, suffering. A large number of patients have died who could have accessed this treatment.

"Assessment was just so much quicker in those countries because they recognised the novelty and effectiveness of these drugs.

"They still have a broader range of treatments to offer than we do."

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