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Science Alert: Experts Respond

Keytruda decision hasn’t addressed drug-funding problems – Expert reaction

Sarah-Jane O'Connor posted in on August 19th, 2016.

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of melanoma in the world but lags in funding novel drugs that show promise in treating the disease, according to a new study. The study, published today in the New Zealand Medical Journal, outlines the clinical information on new melanoma treatments and compares the funding programmes in […]

Pharmac confirms funding for melanoma drug – In the News

Sarah-Jane O'Connor posted in on August 3rd, 2016.

Drug-buying agency Pharmac officially announced funding for the melanoma treatment Keytruda on Tuesday. It followed a provisional decision in June to fund the drug and funding for the alternate Opdivo (nivolumab). Pharmac had previously said it had received mixed advice on the long-term benefits of Keytruda (pembrolizumab), but operations director Sarah Fitt said new evidence […]

Melanoma mutations vary North to South – In the News

John Kerr posted in on May 16th, 2016.

New Zealand has the highest rates of melanoma in the world but the underlying genetic changes behind these cancers vary considerably between the North and South islands, finds a new study. Researchers from the University of Otago analysed the DNA in tumour samples from 529 patients with metastatic melanoma, looking for genes linked to the […]

Kiwi teens sizzle in the sun – In the News

John Kerr posted in on March 31st, 2016.

New Zealand teens are shirking sun-smart clothing and the grown-ups looking after them are not doing much better, according to new research.  The findings come from a study in which researchers surreptitiously monitored the sun protection efforts of over 1,200 students and 200 adult supervisors at a Dunedin school sport day. The University of Otago […]

PHARMAC needs funding boost – Dr Francis Hunter

John Kerr posted in on March 7th, 2016.

Writing on* the University of Auckland’s Dr Francis Hunter outlines the situation PHARMAC and the Government face over the melanoma drug Keytruda. An excerpt (read in full here): ‘Real, urgent’ plight for melanoma patients hoping for better Keytruda funding Pharmac’s assignment of a low-funding priority to pembrolizumab (Keytruda) for advanced melanoma has brought cancer drug […]

Push for Keytruda funding – Expert reaction

John Kerr posted in on March 1st, 2016.

Public pressure is growing for the Government to fund the melanoma drug Keytruda, listed as ‘low priority’ by drug funding agency PHARMAC. A petition of over 45,000 signatures, calling for the drug to be funded through PHARMAC, is due to be presented to Health Minister Jonathan Coleman on the steps of parliament today. Speaking to […]

PHARMAC not to fund melanoma drug – In the News

John Kerr posted in on December 3rd, 2015.

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, […]

Cancer: the cost of a life – NZH special series

John Kerr posted in on November 13th, 2015.

This week the New Zealand Herald has run an extensive five-part series – in print and online – delving deep into controversies in cancer testing and treatment and reporting on the moving stories of people afflicted with cancer. The ‘Cancer: the cost of a life’ series, authored by Herald health reporter Martin Johnston, is supported […]

New melanoma drug in the headlines

John Kerr posted in on September 8th, 2015.

A promising melanoma drug has doctors and patient groups calling for the medicine to be funded by PHARMAC in New Zealand. There has been a flurry of media coverage following a feature story about pembrolizumab on the current affairs show 3D. The drug, marketed as Keytruda, helps the patient’s immune system to fight certain types […]

Continue reading “New melanoma drug in the headlines

New viral immunotherapy for skin cancer completes phase 3 trials – Expert Reaction

Amy Guest posted in on May 27th, 2015.

A new drug that specifically targets cancer cells has shown promising results in phase three clinical trials. A genetically-modified herpes virus injected into tumours of melanoma patients stimulated an immune response to attack cancer cells, according to research published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The virus replicated inside the cancer cells and used the body’s own immune system […]

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