New Pharmac drug funding approved but some New Zealanders still missing out

A Motueka woman living with multiple sclerosis (MS) is vowing to fight for access to a drug now funded for some sufferers.

Ocrevus is being offered by Pharmac for those in the early stages of MS.

Lesley Jackson doesn't qualify - and is furious.

"How can you turn around and say to someone, well there is this drug you could have but because you can't walk 500 metres unaided, you can't have it. It's devastating."

Jackson, who has a more advanced form, thinks the criteria should be widened.

"It's about time this drug was allowed to come into New Zealand, it's been in other countries for four years. But there are youngsters, much younger than me, some in their thirties, who won't be able to have it."

She says the drug costs around $24,000 a year.

While Ocrevus will not be widely available, Pharmac has just finalised a deal which will fund three new breast cancer drugs.

Auckland couple Troy and Tracey Elliott are thrilled at the news. Tracey has stage four breast cancer and she says the funding is well overdue.

"This is just stage one of drugs needing to be approved. This drug was approved all around the world, but not in New Zealand. So we are really grateful for this."

Kadcylais is one of the three new medicines being offered by Pharmac.

The couple was paying $9000 every week for it, and the financial strain was taking a toll. 

"It has actually been quite an expensive process for us. We were looking at selling our house, but with the announcement that came through, it meant we were able to not sell our house which was a great relief."

The drug has reduced Tracey's tumour significantly.