Pharmac to 'consider changes' on access to new breast cancer drug ribociclib

The Government medicines-buying agency says it won't limit access to a new breast cancer drug, despite the Breast Cancer Foundation saying otherwise.

The foundation appeared on AM on Thursday, concerned that some patients would miss out on ribociclib, sold under brand name Kisqali.

Geraldine MacGibbon, pharmaceuticals director at Te Pātaka Whaioranga/Pharmac, joined AM on Friday.

She admitted there had been a communication breakdown.

"When we made the decision we didn't make the changes that they had asked for, and when we notified the decision we said that we were open to changes, and that we would be happy to consider a funding application," MacGibbon said.

She said the agency released its decision to fund two new cancer drugs on Wednesday, one for a type of breast cancer and the other for a type of blood cancer.

"We absolutely understand that people want access to these treatments," she told AM co-host Lloyd Burr.

"We did not make it clear that we are open to considering further changes to the access criteria.

"We'll be taking advice on those changes from our clinical advisors at the next available meeting."

MacGibbon told AM they've since gone back to the Breast Cancer Foundation to clarify that, and their website has been updated.

She said the regulator hopes to have the situation resolved by the time funding for ribociclib begins in July, but patients who meet the criteria will still be able to apply for a restriction waiver if it isn't resolved by then.

Ribociclib can be prescribed to patients who have a specific type of breast cancer, particularly HR-positive HER2-negative breast cancer.

It's given to cancer patients who experience bad side effects from palbociclib (Ibrance), a similar drug.

"We're doing the absolute best we can to get medicines funding for New Zealanders," MacGibbon said.

Watch the full interview above.