Duncan Garner: $60m for new cancer drugs is not enough

Opinion 02/09/2019

I don't want to sound ungrateful, but was that it? Really?

The Government has announced $20 million in extra funding this year and $40m extra next year.


Let me give you some perspective, we spend about $1 billion on drugs through Pharmac who, until yesterday, had a world-class model - but that was a blatant lie and politicians could no longer keep a straight face saying it.

So Pharmac gets a much-needed shake-up.

I say people power overpowered the Government on this and finally Pharmac will be touched up.

The secretive closed shop, no transparency, even less accountability, and it has as much empathy as a hungry Hannibal Lecter on unescorted day leave from supermax.

Truth is $60 million over two years for new drugs is piddly, it's actually disappointing. Pharmac needs to double its budget from $1 billion to $2 billion if we are going to see a real change.

As a country we have tumbled embarrassingly down the list of how much we spend on drugs. Until recent moves, New Zealand funded just one new breast cancer drug in the past 10 years. Australia has funded the top three, and saved lives.

No wonder 30 Kiwi women die every month from breast cancer - one each day - who will it be today?

We have sat by and let our mums, grannies, sisters, aunts die, that is shameful.

Ibrance is a crucial drug funded around the world and, in Australia, it's $40 a month, here the drug costs $6,500 every month.

This is just the start. You've got to make some noise. Do not settle for this drop in the ocean funding increase and somehow be grateful. Bugger it.

We pay too much tax to accept average and why should we play second fiddle to Australia on life expectancy? Don't rest up - demand Pharmac double its medicine budget, write to Jacinda Ardern, make your voice heard and count.

And, to Wiki Mulholland, who I believe kicked this all off a year or so ago, I know you're doing it tough, but the drug you need will be available next April.

I know you can get there. We have accepted C-grade, cattle class cancer care for too long. Thanks to you, Wiki, it's going to get a bit better. But we have much more to do.

Duncan Garner is the host of The AM Show