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The Real Cost of Medicine in Aotearoa

Recently we shared an open letter to Pharmac written by Medical Oncologist and GCF Scientific Advisory Committee member, Dr Kate Clarke. In the letter, Kate talked about the ways in which New Zealand continues to fall behind other OECD countries with access to cancer drugs that are commonly standard of care in other countries and can make a huge difference to Kiwis living with gut cancers here.

We had the support of two Kiwis who know what this access means in reality through firsthand experience.

Kim Vigors shared her story with the Woman's Day to draw attention to the inequities that exist in funding for cancer treatment between New Zealand and Australia. Kim, a Kiwi, lost her Australian husband Mark to bowel cancer last year and was able to have his life-extending treatment funded through the Australian Pharmaceuticals Benefits Scheme (PBS). Had he been treated in New Zealand, the medicine would have left them hundreds of thousands of dollars out of pocket. We are so grateful to Kim for sharing her story to draw attention to these inequities, and to help illustrate the reason Dr Kate Clarke's letter to Pharmac is so important.

Diane Smith took the time to talk to RNZ about unfunded medicines. Diane is currently self-funding her treatment for oesophageal cancer which is costing $10,000 every month. Diane along with Kim, Dr Kate Clarke and our CE Liam Willis also spoke with RNZ to highlight the inequities that exist for kiwi patients compared to other countries.

These are just two stories that highlight the impact of lack of access to cancer treatments locally, we will continue to raise this issue and advocate for better access to lifesaving and life extending medicines for Kiwis with gut cancers in Aotearoa.