Pharmac mulls funding new medicines for lung cancer

By Contributor

Medicine funding agency Pharmac is seeking proposals from pharmaceutical suppliers for medicines that could treat New Zealanders with lung cancer.

Lung cancer disproportionately affects Māori, who are nearly four times more likely to be diagnosed than non-Māori.

Māori and Pacific peoples are also more likely to be diagnosed with advanced or metastatic lung cancer and experience worse outcomes than non-Māori and non-Pacific people.

“Lung cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in Aotearoa and it is the leading cause of cancer-related mortality,” Pharmac chief executive Sarah Fitt says.

The medicines to be evaluated are a type of immunotherapy called immune checkpoint inhibitors.

Pharmac will assess proposals over several months.

“We hope the result of this competitive process will help reduce some of these health inequities while acknowledging there is further work to be done to support better medicine access equity across the health system,” Fitt says.

Lung cancer specialist, Dr Laird Cameron sees people with lung cancer every day who could benefit from this immunotherapy.

“I hope that this first step towards funding immunotherapy for advanced lung cancer will be undertaken as efficiently as possible and result in an evidence-based therapy available for New Zealanders."