Sep 16, 2020, 6:56 PM

Rare Disorders NZ (RDNZ) supports patient advocate Fiona Tolich’s Human Rights Commission case against PHARMAC for failing to fund a rare muscular disorder drug.

“Our organisation whole-heartedly supports Fiona’s case for effective treatment,” says RDNZ Chief Executive Lisa Foster. “It’s shameful that families are forced to move to Australia to access this life-changing medicine, despite continued patient submissions and clinical evidence to show its worth.” 

Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) is a group of spinal muscular disorders that affect the motor neurons. Tolich lives with SMA and has been campaigning for years to get the drug, Spinraza, funded on behalf of 35 young people aged 18 years and under who suffer from the rare disorder. Spinraza has shown incredible results for children with SMA in other countries. The fact that PHARMAC won’t fund it for New Zealanders is blatant “discrimination”, according to Tolich.   

“PHARMAC’s own clinical experts placed Spinraza on their high priority for funding list in February – how long do New Zealanders have to wait? Are we forcing people with rare disorders to play a lottery game with odds never in their favour? In a country with a keen sense of fairness, is that acceptable?” says Lisa.

There are more New Zealanders living with a rare disorder than those diagnosed with diabetes - an estimated 300,000 people. Within rare disorders there are over 6,000 different conditions with a wide range of symptoms that impact on daily life in varied ways but with common barriers.

“PHARMAC needs a significant increase in their budget as well as a well overdue review of their funding processes to ensure people living with uncommon health conditions are not left out,” says Lisa.

RDNZ, and their collective of 140 rare disorder support groups, are calling for systemic changes system to ensure people living with a rare disorder are considered within our healthcare system. The Fair for Rare NZ campaign wants acknowledgement of the common challenges facing the rare disorder community through the development of a National Rare Disorder Framework. NZ lags behind most OECD countries in supporting people living with rare disorders and their whanau to access needed health and social care. 

Newshub article: Human Rights Commission grants case against Pharmac for failing to fund rare muscular disorder drug

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