Merck Sharp and Dohme NZ (MSD NZ) have removed their two year limit on its Keytruda cost-share programme for New Zealand bowel cancer patients. MSD in New Zealand revised the programme to allow patients to continue to receive Keytruda after two years of treatment; at no cost to the patient other than private hospital administration costs.
The Keytruda cost-share programme was previously available for up to two years, where it was deemed the drug should have worked sufficiently to reduce tumours and the patient remains stable or presents with no evidence of disease.
In December 2019 the rules were revised by Merck Sharp and Dohme NZ to allow New Zealand patients access to the treatment until the patient or their clinician decide to stop treatment, helping make the drug more affordable.
Keytruda is an immunotherapy drug that has shown to be effective in treating metastatic colorectal patients that are MSI-H or have the hereditary mutation, Lynch Syndrome. However, it carries a hefty price tag because it is unfunded for all cancers except advanced melanoma. The Ministry of Health requires it to be administered in a private oncology centre.
Cost Share Programmes may offer free treatment doses or a capped payment for the duration of treatment. Always involve your Doctor/oncologist to work out which immunotherapy treatment could be right for you as Keytruda works better in some patients and Avastin made by Roche, in others.