New drug is good news but Pharmac refuses to reconsider eligibility - News & Updates • Breast Cancer Foundation NZ

New drug is good news but Pharmac refuses to reconsider eligibility

Pharmac has announced it will fund a new breast cancer treatment called ribociclib (brand name Kisqali) for Kiwis with hormone-positive advanced breast cancer. This is the same class of medicine, called CDK4/6 inhibitor, as palbociclib (Ibrance), which has been funded in NZ since 2020.

Through Pharmac’s consultation process late last year, Breast Cancer Foundation NZ asked for an amendment to the proposed eligibility criteria so that patients who experience severe and life-threatening side effects on palbociclib can switch to ribociclib, or vice versa. Today, Pharmac has refused our recommendation.

Adèle Gautier, research & strategic programmes manager at Breast Cancer Foundation NZ, responded: “Drugs like this work really well for many, sometimes extending survival by several years, so we’re really pleased to have another option. But some patients are forced to stop a drug due to life-threatening side effects, even though it’s doing wonders for their cancer. We asked Pharmac to scrap its ‘one drug per lifetime rule’ for this type of drug to allow patients to switch to another one, which would involve no extra cost and no additional patients, but they’ve declined that. So in that respect, it’s falling short and a missed opportunity to do our best for people with advanced breast cancer.”