Lung Foundation New Zealand Tuapapa Pukahukahu Aotearoa understands there are many pressures on government (Pharmac too), especially in 2022. We acknowledge and support the philosophy the government has employed with its response to covid and reducing the impacts of covid, which is informed by scientific evidence and well-being; dedicated to reducing the burden on the health of all people right across New Zealand.
Budget 2022’s increase of $191 Million for Pharmac certainly is welcomed, but we (lung cancer advocates, patients, carers and HCP’s) aren’t jumping for joy just yet, because our philosophy is ‘leave no one behind. What we all know; investment in medicines is vital to improving patient wellbeing and increasing survival. Furthermore it saves money downstream in our health system.
While we are encouraged to see an increase in Pharmac’s budget, we are mindful NZ is still far behind comparable countries in the OECD. This means, for many patients, the lack of access to treatment/s continues (unless you have money to pay) = increased pressure on our overburdened health system by vulnerable patients, re-entering the health system due to adverse side effects, and/or progression, the result of inferior (outdated) treatment/s . Premature death for lung cancer continues.. 5 patients die everyday of lung cancer and a further 6 are diagnosed.
The above said, we acknowledge Pharmac’s commitment to issue a request for proposal/s for immune checkpoint inhibitors for lung cancer treatment in the next month.
We also accept, delays, caused by the lack of funding till now has prevented the RFP process and subsequent reimbursement of immunotherapy for first line treatment of stage four lung cancer, as well as the number of other patient cohorts in need of a targeted therapy.
We want to emphasise two things;
The number of PD- L1 immune checkpoint inhibitors for lung cancer DO NOT all provide the same or similar effect in the treatment of advanced NSCLC. We hope the RFP for the ‘number of treatment modalities’ will acknowledge this and be guided by scientific evidence.. Patients and their family’s want the best treatments funded not the cheapest..
e.g. clinical data (peer reviewed) demonstrates the efficacy of Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) in first-line setting, as mono-therapy and in combination therapy, is SUPERIOR to other inhibitors.
Please can we ensure improved collaboration across the various government health entities to ensure NZ’s health system has the equipment, the technology and the capacity to deliver immunotherapy treatment to lung cancer patients as soon as possible.
May consultation and collaboration continue so we can help ensure the needs of patients and carers are at the centre of all reimbursement decisions.
Philip Hope, CEO, Lung Foundation New Zealand
021 959 450