Pharmac Update: Rule 8.1b

On Friday Pharmac announced that they will retain rule 8.1b of the Pharmaceutical Schedule. Rule 8.1b is a special mechanism which allows doctors in the paediatric oncology centers to access clinical trials and prescribe international best practice therapies that would not otherwise be available in New Zealand.
The AYA Network’s submission was written in support of our paediatric colleagues and the children, adolescents and their whānau that they care for. We also strongly advocated for AYAs with paediatric malignancies who are treated in adult cancer centers to have the same access to treatments that rule 8.1b provides.
We are delighted that Pharmac has annouced that they are looking for ways to improve the way that rule 8.1b works, including improving access to treatment for adolescent and young adults with a paediatric-type cancer regardless of where they are treated.
Pharmac’s press release and summary of submissions can be found here: Read here
The summary of submissions included an extract from the letter written by members of the AYA Consumer Advisory Group
“The importance of keeping rule 8.1b with the wording ‘people with paediatric cancers’ instead of ‘children with cancer’ can not be overstated. It is critical to ensure equal access to potentially life-saving treatment for all people affected by these cancers, regardless of age. This will avoid age-based discrimination and the further widening of the cancer survival gap for AYAs with cancer compared to children.”
The AYA Network remains committed to advocating for a similar mechanism for AYAs with ‘adult’ cancers. This would go a long way towards addressing inequities and improving outcomes for young people with cancer.
We thank the many clinicians, NGOs, groups, and young people who endorsed our submission and look forward to working with Pharmac in the coming months to improve access to cancer treatments for AYAs.

Heidi Watson

The Clinical Leader is responsible for providing clinical leadership and national oversight of the network .

Heidi is a passionate and experienced health professional with a strong clinical, education and leadership background. Her enthusiasm for, and commitment to youth health has focused on improving the outcomes of youth with cancer and chronic health conditions. Previously, Heidi held the position of AYA Cancer Nurse Specialist for Auckland District Health Board. Alongside her AYA clinical leadership role she holds a youth health academic position at the University of Auckland.