A Tauranga father and daughter are at Parliament today to present a petition with more than 1000 signatures that calls for Pharmac to fund a life-prolonging drug.

Tourism Bay of Plenty chief executive Kristin Dunne and her father Stephen Dunne, who has terminal bowel cancer, presented their petition to the health committee this afternoon calling for Cetuximab to be funded for bowel cancer patients.

Kristin Dunne says her family has spent more than $120,000 - her parents' entire life savings - on private treatment, including Cetuximab that costs $2000 just to administer.

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According to the Parliament website, 1165 people signed the petition that opened on August 14.

The Bay of Plenty Times understands Dunne called on the health committee to have Pharmac fund the drug as she presented the petition.

"I will never forget the hideous day of his terminal diagnosis.

"But that was over three years ago when Dad was given just nine months to live. One of the reasons he is here today is because of Cetuximab."

The Bay of Plenty Times understands Pharmac began assessing whether to fund the drug in 2013.

"Six years later there is no decision," Dunne said. "In life and death situations, this is appalling . . . the system is broken."

Kristin Dunne (left) with her father Stephen Dunne, pictured in August 2019. Photo / File
Kristin Dunne (left) with her father Stephen Dunne, pictured in August 2019. Photo / File

Dunne said since her father had been on Cetuximab, his scan results had shown he was stable with some improvement.

He had seen two great-grandchildren born and was set to celebrate his 80th birthday on Boxing Day.


"We couldn't do any of this if [it was] not for Cetuximab."

Stephen Dunne, 79, has been fighting stage four bowel cancer for four years. After he was diagnosed in December 2014, he had an operation and was told no follow-up treatment was needed at the time.

A check-up a year and a half later showed the cancer had spread to his lungs and liver and Stephen was given between 12 and 18 months to live with treatment.

He received chemotherapy and radiation before he started using Cetuximab.

Kristin Dunne previously told the Bay of Plenty Times her father's tumours have shrunk and decreased in number while he has been on the drug, with the only side effects being a skin rash.

When the Bay of Plenty Times last spoke to the Dunnes, the family had spent $110,000 on treatment.

Dunne and his wife, Therese, have drained their life savings, sold their rental property and have considered selling their home to continue paying for the drug.

The drug was free after a certain amount of treatments. Dunne had passed that point, but it still cost $2000 to administer.

A Pharmac spokesperson previously told the Bay of Plenty Times Cetuximab was being assessed for funding.

The spokesperson said it had been referred to the cancer subcommittee for assessment, which is a group of clinical experts made up of oncologists, but it was not possible to give a timeframe for when a decision would be made.