Medavivors tell their story to select committee

By Tema Hemi

Pharmac is a Crown entity that decides on behalf of District Health Boards which medicines and pharmaceutical products are subsidised. This morning Parliament's Health Select Committee spoke to cancer sufferers who want cheaper access to cancer drugs.

'Medavivors' are taking the government to bring about change to access the drugs they desperately need. The women are full of optimism that they will see changes before their time is up. 
The Select Committee will follow up with the Ministry on the development of a cancer action plan. They will hear from another ten medavivors next week, but have made it very clear that they want to hear from Pharmac again. 

Cancer sufferer Wiki Mulholland says, "I'm hoping they make the changes that we need, but in the same breath we're five months down the track since the petitions."

She says that there needs to be more focus around Pharmac as the drug buying agency, "They're the ones we're asking to have an inquiry into, they're the ones that need to open the doors and shine the light and let's see what's going on, let's see why we've got such poor statistics. "

Another medivivor Elisa Wijohn says, "The only way to do this is as a collective. To do this on your own, you're just fighting such a big machine it will completely dominate you. You know through this we get to meet each other."

Select Committee Chair Louisa Wall believes them women shared real life experience of what its like to have a treatable disease, "From their perspective, they want to access those pharmaceuticals because they want to live." 

"We've been really clear we need more information from the Ministry of Health and Pharmac. And we are quite keen to engage with the pharmaceutical companies that provide both Ibrance and Kadcyla," says Wall.