Focus groups have told Key that overruling Pharmac is a winner

John Key is about to gazzump Andrew Little’s promise, and clearly he has had some focus grouping done.

Pharmac could be getting a significant funding boost to allow it to fund the melanoma drug Keytruda, Prime Minister John Key has hinted.

Labour has said it would direct Pharmac to fund the drug, but Mr Key today indicated any potential decision would be left largely up to the agency.

That would mean a large amount of extra funding would be needed, as Pharmac had other priorities for any extra money.

“I don’t think it is impossible to get Pharmac to fund Keytruda. I think the issue is that Pharmac would say that if we give them a bit more money, there are other drugs that they would see where the efficacy is higher – not in melanoma, but in other areas.”   

[Health Minister Jonathan Coleman] has got advice from his officials and ultimately from Pharmac.

As it currently sits, they would say there are other, bigger priorities, and they are not ruling out, and we are not ruling out, potentially them getting the resources to do that.

“Pharmac’s experts committee last week granted Keytruda [pembrolizumab] low-priority status because of uncertainty about its benefits and its high cost – about $300,000 a patient for two years’ treatment.

The good thing about Key’s stance was in the video at NZ Herald, where he acknowledged that his government over-rode Pharmac on Herceptin and so it would be a bit hypocritical to attack Labour for their calls to fund Keytruda.

He explained the position quite well in explaining it, rather than Andrew Little’s stance which was to declare unilaterally that Labour would fund it.


– NZ Herald

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

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