Herceptin Debate Exposes Political Parties
Following High Court proceedings against it Pharmac has maintained its commitment to rational, science-based decisions by honestly re-evaluating the research into Herceptin rather than caving in to feminist political pressure. No good research currently supports a contention that a 12-month course for women is clinically superior to a shorter course, so Pharmac very sensibly has decided to withhold expenditure on Herceptin of $20 to $30 million that can be used for other treatments supported by adequate proof.
The reaction of the political parties to Pharmac’s unchanged position provides important information about how corrupt they are prepared to become in order to attract the women’s vote. National has said it will fund the 12-month course of Herceptin regardless of the evidence. National politicians believe they know better than the medical experts in Pharmac, they show no recognition of the importance of allowing Pharmac to make rational, science-based decisions as it was established to do, and they care nothing for the suffering and deaths of other ill people because the money spent on unproven additional Herceptin treatment will not be available for proven treatments.
Winston Peters, never one to miss an opportunity to seek populist approval regardless of integrity, has slammed the Pharmac decision as unethical and a disgrace, and has asserted that women should be provided with anything that might be available anywhere else in the world. He has decided that he knows much better than the experts in Pharmac, and he appears to believe that providing women with whatever they demand requires no consideration whatsoever of what the research says or the consequences for others. He clearly hopes to improve his dwindling chances of remaining in parliament by courting the votes of those women who automatically assume that spending money on their gender must be a good idea.
The Green Party, surprisingly given their history of advocating wacky, unproven spiritualist approaches to such things as pest control in horticulture, has supported the wisdom of allowing Pharmac to make the decision. However, Sue Kedgley wanted it both ways and clearly left the door open to exploit women’s vote should this appear to become a significant political football, by stating “Many women will be devastated that they are being denied an apparently life-saving drug”. This statement is of course a complete falsehood and shows how little the Green Party really cares about honesty when it comes to dealing with gender issues. Women are not being denied Herceptin at all; millions of dollars per year will continue to be spent on providing this drug in a way that the research currently shows to be clinically effective.
The Republic of New Zealand Party endorsed the role of Pharmac and especially its stand against unreasonable feminist demands. The Republicans stated that government should support rather than sabotage its organizations when they do their job properly. The Republicans noted that Pharmac is the envy of many other countries due to its success in dividing up the pharmacological health budget rationally and in helping New Zealand maintain what power it can in dealing with mutlitnational drug companies whose income exceeds the value of our entire economy. The Republicans claimed that the health needs of men and women should be given equal priority, that men are currently being treated as second-class citizens, and that a written constitution is needed to bring about equality for all.