A Significant Setback for Cancer Patients: Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand’s Response to the Budget

30 May 2024 -

Today’s Budget is a significant setback for cancer patients across New Zealand. With no new funding for Pharmac, the Government has backtracked on National’s pre-election pledge to provide an additional $70 million for cancer medicines over the coming year.

 The absence of additional budget means that no new medicines will be funded by Pharmac, for any condition, over the next 12 months beyond those already under consultation. This reality was confirmed by Pharmac’s Chief Executive, who recently noted that current funding only allows Pharmac to “keep the lights on”.

 We are deeply concerned about the implications of this decision to delay the implementation of the cancer medicines funding policy by at least a year. It denies access to potentially life-prolonging and life-saving treatments for thousands of patients.

 Delaying and deprioritising funding for medicines directly impacts the quality of care and health outcomes for those living with cancer. The number of New Zealanders with cancer waiting on Government funding for medicines that Pharmac has already favourably reviewed has grown by 24% over the past 18 months to more than 6,800.

 In the case of myeloma patients, it will be another year that the life-prolonging benefit of Daratumumab goes unfunded in New Zealand, while it is funded as a standard of care treatment option in 48 other countries.

 New Zealand spends less on medicines as a percentage of GDP than any other OECD country, and today’s budget fails to address our outlier status.

 We will be engaging with the Government to urgently seek clarity on the timing and specifics of their plans for delivering on their pre-election commitments to cancer patients and their longer-term plans for medicines funding reform.