Pharmac funding should be doubled - breast cancer advocate

A breast cancer advocate believes Pharmac needs to have its funding doubled to better serve New Zealanders.

Elisa Lavelle Wijohn thought she was in the clear five years after her initial diagnosis with breast cancer, but found out instead it had metastasised to her spine and hip.

But palbociclib, one of the drugs she's taking to treat it, isn't funded so her parents are shelling out $5850 a month to keep her alive.

"It blocks things chemically in a way that I don't fully understand, but it tends to give people an extra couple of years of life."

Ms Wijohn backs the Māori affairs select committee investigation into how the health system affects Māori, but says the Government should be looking at Pharmac and its funding as well.

"We need an inquiry into Pharmac, we need these drugs funded, but really, I think what we need is the budget for Pharmac to be doubled."

A group of women who are in a similar position to Ms Wijohn will speak to the health select committee on Wednesday about unfunded drugs and how this affects them.

"They will describe in poignant detail their personal experience with advanced breast cancer and what it's like knowing they could have more time alive with their family if the medicines were funded in New Zealand as they are in most comparable countries."

Ms Wijohn said palbociclib costs around $40 in Australia, $5810 less than in New Zealand.

"The first question [asked] when my parents heard that I was diagnosed was, should I be living in Australia."