An outcome is still awaited after Melanoma sufferers presented the Health Minister and Andrew Little with two petitions with close to 54,000 signatures asking the Pharmac to fund Keytruda.
Representing local Kāpiti resident Codi Morgan was his grandmother Jalna Wilkins and Labour’s Rob McCann.
“The government is more than happy to help people dying and manage their palliative care by giving them morphine until they pass,” said Codi’s grandmother Jalna Wilkins. “What we want the government to do is to fund the living and give them the opportunity to live. And the options are there now. In the last few years the development in the gene and immune therapy drugs are such that people with melanoma now have hope.”
But Codi’s hope comes with a catch. The family are spending just over $11,000 per month on an unfunded drug called Dabrafenib to keep Codi alive, and the family have taken the advice of their oncologist and are using givealittle to help raise the necessary funds.
“We’re between a rock and a hard place because you’ve got to help your family as best you can, but then you dig a hole for yourself because you’re upping mortgages and things like that to try and fund the drugs. We need the government’s help whether it be full or partial subsidies. We need the government to step up and treat melanoma patients as if they matter,” says Jalna Wilkins.
Labour’s Ōtaki electorate candidate at the last election, Rob McCann, was there to support the family and says the buck stops with the government.
“The Minister needs to stop handing out platitudes and saying that Pharmac’s money was spoken for. We know that for the last four or five years, Pharmac has run a surplus of around ten million a year, but instead of the government allowing that money to go back into Pharmac’s budget to be spent on providing much needed drugs, the Minister of Health pockets that money. That is just wrong.
“It gets worse when you factor what this government has been spending cash on. Twenty six million on a flawed flag change process, dodgy Saudi sheep deals and extravagant spending on government buildings. The government needs to stop handing out sympathy and find some funding instead of dangling tax cuts, when clearly the country can’t afford them,” said Mr McCann.
“And just the other day the Prime Minister was going to spend public money to settle the ‘tea pot tapes’ issue. You can be sure that we’ve already spent a significant amount of public money on legal advice for the Prime Minister when he was acting in the capacity of leader of the National Party.
“It begins to feel like lives don’t matter much. At least silent lives don’t matter. So please, write to our local MP and get him off his tractor and onto this issue. Write to other MPs and let them know that everyone’s lives matter, and mention Codi. His life depends on you.”