PHARMAC’s decision not to fund melanoma treatment pembrolizumab – marketed as Keytruda – has been widely covered in the media.
Public pressure to fund the drug increased in September this year following coverage of impressive recoveries attributed to the treatment, and registration of the drug with MedSafe.
However according to PHARMAC’s analysis of the available evidence, “most people who receive pembrolizumab for malignant melanoma will not see a response in their tumours. Of those people that do get a response, it is not clear at this time whether pembrolizumab will help them live longer.”
The treatment can cost up to $300,000 for two years. It is state-funded in Australia and England.
Examples of coverage of the decision include:
RNZ: Cancer survivor’s dismay at Pharmac funding call
New Zealand Herald: Cancer – ‘Wonder drug’ funding battle
Stuff.co.nz: Life-saving drug treatment ‘low priority’ with too little data – Pharmac
Otago Daily Times: Lack of funding for melanoma drug
3 News: No Pharmac funding for Keytruda drug
NZ City News: Dismay after melanoma drug decision
3 News: Doctor: ‘Weakness in Pharmac’s system’ over melanoma drug