Cancer Society Advocates For Government-Funded Cancer Drugs

Published: Fri 7 Jun 2024 02:36 PM
The Southern Cancer Society continues to advocate for the funding of essential cancer drugs by PHARMAC, emphasising the urgent need for equitable access to life-saving medications for all New Zealanders. The call to action has never been more pressing, as illustrated by the experiences of individuals like Jennie Wedge.
Jennie Wedge, a dedicated nurse, and mother of four, has faced an arduous journey over the past year. Jennie initially experienced flu-like symptoms, but her breathlessness persisted intermittently. Despite her GP's diligence and numerous tests, her condition remained undiagnosed. By the end of January 2024, with no improvement, Jennie sought private care at a cost due to the four-month wait for the Respiratory Clinic.
On March 7th, a CT scan revealed a mass on Jennie's right upper lobe. The subsequent diagnosis has placed Jennie and her family in a challenging position, highlighting the critical need for timely and accessible treatment options. Jennie describes the experience as a roller coaster ride, with the initial hope that her condition could be treated, only to face the harsh reality of being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.
Currently, Jennie is not working during the initial three-month treatment period but would like to continue to work as an Register Nurse in the future. Jennie is in urgent need of a drug that is not funded by the government. Despite having health insurance, she was denied coverage for this life-extending medication, leaving her family to cover the exorbitant cost of $11,044 per month. Jennie has been holding out hope that this drug would be funded by PHARMAC, following promises made by the government.
Throughout her journey, Jennie has been supported by the Cancer Society, which has provided unwavering assistance and care. Jennie, who has two grandchildren and is expecting two more in October and November, is determined to advocate not only for herself but for all New Zealanders who are missing out on life-saving drugs.
Nicola Coom, chief executive of the Southern Cancer Society, underscores the significance of this advocacy:
"Jennie's story is a stark reminder of the gaps in our healthcare system. No one should have to face delays or financial barriers when it comes to receiving a cancer diagnosis and treatment. We are calling on the government to fund PHARMAC so that these essential drugs are available to every New Zealander, regardless of their circumstances. Zero money for cancer medicines is simply unacceptable.”
The Southern Cancer Society remains committed in its mission to advocate for improved cancer care and support. The Society is calling on the government to prioritise the funding of new cancer drugs, ensuring that patients like Jennie Wedge receive the timely and effective treatments they desperately need.

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