NZers getting access to best cancer medicines

Media release Medicines

A new analysis of cancer medicine access in Australia and New Zealand shows that New Zealanders are getting access to the best cancer medicines available, says PHARMAC medical director Dr John Wyeth.

PHARMAC commissioned research in March 2015 looking at health benefits of cancer medicines funded in Australia compared to those funded in New Zealand. The research used published data from clinical trials to quantify the health benefit offered by each medicine.

Data from the research, presented to the NZ Society of Oncology today, looked closely at the medicines funded in Australia but not New Zealand (22 medicines), using internationally-recognised measures, progression-free survival (PFS) and median overall survival (OS).

“The research found a lot of commonality between Australia and New Zealand – 88 medicines funded in both countries,” says Dr Wyeth.

“Most of the additional medicines funded in Australia but not in New Zealand don’t offer health gains that would be considered clinically meaningful by international cancer specialists in recent research.

“Using these measures of survival, New Zealand’s usual standards of care offer better health gains for people than the medicines on offer.”

Dr Wyeth says PHARMAC has received funding applications for many of these medicines, and they are undergoing assessment and consideration for funding alongside treatments for other conditions.

“Medicine funding should be about getting better health outcomes, making sure we get benefits for patients from each medicine funded,” says Dr Wyeth. 

“This analysis clearly demonstrates that simply funding more medicines does not necessarily translate to better health outcomes for patients.” 

 “To fund all the medicines identified in this analysis could cost New Zealand at least $80 million a year,” says Dr Wyeth.

“New Zealanders can have confidence that the choices PHARMAC makes are the best that can be made.”

Since the analysis was completed, New Zealand has funded one more cancer medicine, and Australia has funded five.