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Cancer drugs funded in new Pharmac deal

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 5/12/2016

A new drug for breast cancer and another for leukaemia are among the treatments that will be funded as part of one of Pharmac's largest ever deals.

The government drug-buying agency has announced it's signed a package deal with pharmaceutical giant Roche to fund three new drugs, expand access to three others, and cut the costs for five.

The new drugs include pertuzumab, a breast cancer medicine, obinutuzumab, a treatment for lymphocytic leukaemi and pirfenidone, for the respiratory disease pulmonary fibrosis.

"Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women in New Zealand and the funding of pertuzumab in combination with trastuzumab will go a long way to improving patient outcomes," acting Pharmac chief Sarah Fitt said.

Pirfenidone will be the first drug funded in New Zealand for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

In total, about extra 2000 people are expected to get access to the drugs over the next five years.

"This package of medicines is one of the biggest to be funded in Pharmac's history," Ms Fitt said.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman said the packages could be announced because of an extra $124 million over four years invested by the government in this year's budget, taking this year's spend to $850m.

"This new package shows that Pharmac's model for increasing subsidised medicines and treatments for New Zealanders is world class," he said.

Earlier packages this year included increased access to Human Papillomavirus and varicella vaccinations, two new hepatitis C drugs, treatment for advanced melanoma and patches for menopausal women.

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