Federal Health Minister Peter Dutton sympathetic but unwilling

PLEA: Mum Glenyce and Amelia, 6, McCrohan. Picture: BRENDAN McCARTHY

PLEA: Mum Glenyce and Amelia, 6, McCrohan. Picture: BRENDAN McCARTHY

ORIGINAL STORY: Goornong family plea for life-saving drug

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EDITORIAL: Responses don't answer questions

FEDERAL Health Minister Peter Dutton says it would be "wholly inappropriate" to overturn expert recommendations regarding cystic fibrosis drug Kalydeco, despite his sympathy for suffering families. 

Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters on Monday said the government should make the drug easily available to families, following the plight of Goornong resident Amelia McCrohan, 6, who suffers from a rare form of cystic fibrosis that could be treated with Kalydeco.

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee recommended the drug be subsidised, but because of recommended conditions, Amelia must wait until her condition declines before it becomes available to her. 

Ms Chesters said Health Minister Peter Dutton had the power to overturn restrictions for people looking to access the drug.

But a spokesperson for Mr Dutton said while the government was extremely sympathetic to the needs of families affected by serious illness or disease, it would be inappropriate for the minister to set aside the committee's recommendations in favour of his own. 

"The government made an election commitment to restore the independence of the PBAC and to respect the findings of the expert clinicians on the committee," he said. 

"In contrast, the former Labor government chose not to list eight medicines recommended by the independent PBAC. Patients missed out because of a political decision by Labor."

He said that under the Coalition, the PBAC has been listing drugs on the benefit scheme at more than twice the rate of the previous government. 

Cystic Fibrosis Australia said earlier in the year that "the Minister for Health is not able to influence, pressure or manipulate the PBAC's assessment process or its outcomes". 

"The PBAC is, and must remain, independent to protect the integrity of the reimbursement process," it said. 

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