Cancer doesn’t just affect the wealthy, Grant Robertson

National’s Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti is calling out Finance Minister Grant Robertson for making the issue of unfunded cancer drugs an issue for the wealthy.

“In response to a National Party proposal for DHBs to cover the costs of administering cancer drugs PHARMAC won’t fund, Mr Robertson claimed in an interview yesterday that the law change would only help those who are wealthy enough already to fund their own treatment, who will then take up space in the public health system,” Dr Reti says.

“New Zealanders are rightly incensed at this response. There are hundreds of stories out there of ordinary Kiwis struggling to pay for their unfunded chemotherapy drugs who resort to give-a-little pages and crowdfunding in order to save or prolong their lives.

“Others are mortgaging their homes, taking out loans and using up all their savings to buy their desperately needed cancer medicines that PHARMAC won’t fund and then they have to pay tens of thousands of dollars on top of this to have these medicines administered.

“It’s wrong to suggest that these Kiwis are wealthy and can afford their treatment. These are ordinary, desperate New Zealander who have made huge sacrifices.

“The very least we could do is remove the regulation that stops cancer medicines that are not funded by PHARMAC from being administered in public hospitals.

“A few hours in an armchair in a day-stay chemotherapy unit pales in comparison to the tens of thousands, often hundreds of thousands, of dollars some people are paying for their unfunded chemotherapy drugs

“I encourage Labour to at the very least support this legislation through to select committee so that they can hear in person from those New Zealanders whose lives would be greatly impacted by this very small change.”

You read Dr Reti's proposed legislation here.