Health Minister: Govt won't fund cancer drug

Jonathan Coleman (File)
Jonathan Coleman (File)

The Government will not step in and fund a cancer wonder drug, says Health Minister Jonathan Coleman.

More than two-thirds of patients treated with pembrolizumab, also known as Keytruda, showed a reduction in tumour growth, and one in 10 were cleared completely.

Dr Coleman told the Paul Henry programme it wouldn't be right for the Government to fund the drug after Pharmac announced it wouldn't last week.

"It's very important that Pharmac can make those decisions at arm's length from politicians because they've got to weigh up a whole lot of things."

He says Pharmac is in some "complex commercial negotiations" and are looking into numerous melanoma drug options.

"Keytruda might not be the best one. There's not the evidence and the data to say it is at the moment.

"I can understand that anyone with melanoma wants to have access to the best medicines in the world, and we want to make sure that they can."

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