Collins suggest Govt could step in on Keytruda

National MP Judith Collins (File)
National MP Judith Collins (File)

After outrage that Pharmac wouldn't fund the so-called melanoma wonder drug Keytruda, National MP Judith Collins has suggested the Government could step in to reverse the decision.

But the Health Minister isn't so sure.

On the Paul Henry programme this morning, Ms Collins suggested the Government could step in to override Pharmac's decision, and fund pembrolizumab.

"Every now and again something comes along and you've just got to say 'something has to give on this'," she says.

National did it once with the breast cancer treatment Herceptin in 2008, and Collins says they could do it again.

"Just wait and watch this space," she says.

Oncologists say they don't care how it's funded, so long as it's funded.

"We welcome any discussions on this topic, we welcome any ideas as to how we are going to get a drug like this to our patients," says Dr Rosalie Fisher.

And frustrated patients and their families have taken to social media to lobby the Government.

If National doesn't step up, Labour says it will.

"It will be on our platform at the next election I can assure you," says Deputy Leader Annette King.

She's already pushed Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman on it in the House this week.

"I don't know if the member is proposing that the Labour Party would change the Pharmac model but we're very committed to it," says Dr Coleman.

And the Health Minister's sticking to his guns.  He wasn't giving interviews on this today, but in a statement reiterated that he's leaving the funding of pembrolizumab in the hands of Pharmac, suggesting Collins may have been speaking out of turn.

Oncologists say it's important not to give patients false hope.

"These patients are sick and desperate and the last thing I think anyone would want to do in this scenario is lead to further disappointment and despair," says Dr Fisher.

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