Transformative investment in cancer treatments and more new medicines

  • Hon Dr Shane Reti
  • Hon David Seymour

The coalition Government is delivering up to 26 cancer treatments as part of an overall package of up to 54 more new medicines, Health Minister Dr Shane Reti and Associate Health Minister David Seymour announced today.

“Pharmac estimates that around 175,000 people will benefit from the additional treatments in just the first year,” Dr Reti says.

“Today we are delivering on the therapies we promised and more, with an unprecedented and transformative investment in cancer and other treatments.

“Of the 13 cancer treatments listed in 2023, up to seven will be included in the package announced today, and the others will be replaced by alternatives just as good or better.

“This means that not only will treatments for all the cancer types in the pre-election manifesto list be covered, but also a number of other treatments, including for blood cancers and other tumours.

“We are also providing more new medicines for a range of other conditions to improve Kiwis’ health and life outcomes.

“This announcement will allow Pharmac to fund up to 26 cancer treatments and 28 other treatments. This will be a mix of new medicines and widened access to medicines that are already available.

“Our reason for this expansion is simple. Increasing access to vital medicines for Kiwis is the right thing to do. We thank each and every New Zealander who has shared their health journey – cancer related or otherwise – with our Government.

“Pharmac will receive a $604 million funding boost for medicines which is a pre-commitment against next year’s Budget. Further funding to deliver and administer the new treatments will available to Pharmac and Health New Zealand.

“This investment delivers on the National and New Zealand First Coalition Agreement to increase funding for Pharmac every year. It also follows our record $16.68 billion for Vote Health in Budget 2024.

“Some of the newly funded cancer treatments will be available from October/ November, with more phased in over the next year,” Dr Reti says.

David Seymour says today’s announcement is exactly what Kiwis want: public money supporting visible frontline services and healthcare for people in need.

“For many New Zealanders, funding for pharmaceuticals is life or death, or the difference between a life of pain and suffering or living freely. It was a priority for this Government to find the additional $1.8 billion to fix the fiscal cliff left by the previous government, and we’re now providing a $604 million uplift to Pharmac to ensure more Kiwis can access life-changing medicines,” Mr Seymour says.

“Expanding the package to reach around 175,000 people per year across a range of conditions in its first year is possible through the Pharmac model which gets the best value for New Zealanders, something that’s very important to me.

“This approach allows the Government and Pharmac to act on updated clinical advice, funding new and more effective treatments which have superseded previous options,” says Mr Seymour.

Dr Reti says Health New Zealand will ensure Kiwis can readily access the new and widened medicines.

“Our Government continues to focus on delivering better outcomes for those with cancer.

“We’re providing better access to more medicines, better cancer management driven by our faster cancer treatment target and increased access to diagnostics through screening programmes.

“Today’s announcement is one of a number we have made around cancer treatment. We have set a target of 90 per cent of patients to receive cancer management within 31 days of the decision to treat. We have also increased breast screening eligibility to 74 year-olds, funded PET scanning accessibility for prostate cancer, expanded infusion services in Whanganui, invested in a new radiotherapy machine at Whangārei Hospital and provided an extra $18 million a year to help people who need to travel for treatments like cancer.

“Actions like these reinforce that we’re a Government committed to delivering on health, and specifically around cancer which we know affects so many New Zealanders and their families each year.

“We will continue to deliver on that commitment,” says Dr Reti.

/Public Release. View in full here.