Duncan Garner: We need an inquiry into Pharmac's funding of cancer drugs

Opinion 04/02/2019

By Duncan Garner, The AM Show host

OPINION: Labour promised voters world class cancer care but, of all the rocks I've looked under, I can't find any evidence anyone has done anything - and the clock is not only ticking but people are dying waiting.

Of the few dozen women who demanded better breast cancer drugs at a rally at Parliament last year, I was told late last night five have died waiting.

One of our guests Wiki Mulholland, who has advanced breast cancer, got access to chemo and to some new drugs and has just been told she's in technical remission. Great news, she may well survive. But the family is cautious.

We as New Zealanders should be demanding better drugs and more funding.

Twenty-three thousand Kiwis got cancer last year, 9000 will die. It's our greatest killer, but we are getting third class medicines - why?

A woman with stage four breast cancer will live five years in Holland, but just 13 months here.

In 10 years, one in two Kiwis will get cancer. That's what one expert told a recent cancer conference. It's grim news isn't it.

And, in the time Australia has approved 24 new cancer drugs, we have approved - wait for this - none.

Today the group Cango - which is made up of most of the not-for-profit cancer support groups - will go public, demanding an inquiry into Pharmac and why we don't get the best medicines.

My sources tell me the health select committee also wants a proper inquiry into Pharmac.

This time tomorrow I'll ask the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern if she agrees - because my sources are telling me, for some reason, the ninth floor at the Beehive isn't keen.

But New Zealanders deserve answers on this and I urge the PM to back the inquiry.

Duncan Garner is host of The AM Show on Magic Talk , Three, & Newshub.