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Herceptin Heroines lose drug funding battle

Thu 7 Aug 2008 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

Pharmac has decided not to increase its funding of the breast cancer fighting drug Herceptin, despite a legal challenge by eight breast cancer patients, dubbed the 'Herceptin Heroines', who include lesbian health campaigner Chris Walsh. Two years ago, the government drug funding agency decided against spending up to $30 million a year for the 12-month Herceptin programme for women with the aggressive HER2 positive form of breast cancer. The judicial review failed to overturn the funding decision, but the judge did criticise Pharmac's lack of consultation and ordered the agency to reconsider its decision not to fund the 12-month drug course - which is standard in 32 other countries, reports Stuff.co.nz. The decision again leaves New Zealand women who seek the 12-month course to fund it themselves. Chris Walsh, who told her personal story of battling breast cancer on TV2's LGBT programme The Outlook last year, paid $90,000 for her own full-year treatment on the drug. Walsh says today's decision will not end the discussion about Herceptin, because since seven woman are diagnosed with cancer in New Zealand each day, she believes people will continue to ask why Pharmac thinks "they are not worth it". The National Party this week promised it would fund Herceptin for the yearly treatment if elected, and urged the Labour government to free up funding for the drug.    

Credit: GayNZ.com News Staff

First published: Thursday, 7th August 2008 - 3:28pm

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