Funding Keytruda for melanoma but not for lung cancer is racist, health advocates say


8 December 2021 - PHARMAC has been accused of institutional racism and breaching the Treaty of Waitangi for funding drugs for melanoma, but not lung cancer – a disease responsible for a disproportionately high number of cancer deaths among Māori.

Cancer Society medical co-director and Hei Āhuru Mōwai, Māori Cancer Leadership Aotearoa spokesman George Laking​ said a 2016 decision to fund immunotherapy drug Keytruda to treat advanced melanoma had created an unjust precedent.

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Michael Wonder

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Michael Wonder