Cancer advocate wants triple funding for Pharmac

By Tema Hemi

Malcolm Mulholland has up the ante on the Government today leading a march of Kiwis calling for the Government to put in place policy settings to double and even triple Pharmacs budget to keep more New Zealanders alive.

Patient Voice Aotearoa State Chair Malcom Mulholland is sending a clear message to the government. 

Mulholland says, "No I don't think this government is listening. All that's been announced since the one percent increase that they gave Pharmac in the last budget round is another cash injection of sixty million and as we said at the time when that happened that's no where near enough."

Eight petitions were presented today to representatives of ACT, National, NZ First, Labour and the Greens with the hope that more cancer sufferers lives will be saved. 

National MP Michael Woodhouse says, "Sadly we've got so many of them on the health select committee. This will bring the number of petitions up into the mid thirties all of which have the same theme, that is there isint enough money for the sort of medicines people need."

Jenny Macroft, NZ First List MP says, "Its absolutely humbling to take their voice particularly being inside the health select committee and really championing getting their message heard."

Tamati Coffey, Labour MP for Waiariki says, "The petitions are the word of the people. This is how people show displeasure with things that are going on in their various communities."

Act Party leader David Seymour says, "I think having a principal model for funding drugs is really important and the Pharmac model used to be a good one."

It seems from hindsight that Health Minister David Clark is finally getting the message. 

Clark says, "We will as government have ambition to continue to increase Pharmac's funding. I think that will be evident from the significant increases we've put in so far. There will always be people wanting more and these are the difficult decisions in the area of health we have to decide."

Mulhollands response to that, "We're actually looking at doubling the Pharmac budget and currently that sits at one billion dollars so ideally we'd like to see the Pharmac budget set at two billion dollars and that way people will live and have a better quality of life."

The treatments being petitioned for range from Kalydeco for Cystic Fibrosis, also Bydureon, Byetta and Lyxumia for Diabettes, to Keytruda for head and neck cancer. Unfortunately for the Mulhollands Ibrance is not in the petitions and is what wife Wiki Mulholland deperately needs for her breast cancer. 

"First and foremost I'm a loving husband and a caring father and whatever else happens as a result of this journey then so be it. But I must say having been down it I'm gonna stick with this for the rest of my life because there's people out there that desperately need those medicines," Mulholland said. 

Mulholland is encouraging the public to sign a petition that calls upon the Government to double the Pharmac budget immediately, with a view to triple the Pharmac budget over two years.