Climate change ‘NZ’s worst environmental issue’
A leading cancer researcher and plastic surgeon has questioned the ‘‘hype’’ around immunotherapy drugs such as Keytruda.
Swee Tan, who founded the Gillies McIndoe Research Institute in Wellington, said there had been only a ‘‘modest improvement of cancer care’’ as a result of trillions of research dollars spent over several decades.
‘‘What we have come up with in the last 20 years is a group of biologic agents that are hugely expensive and partially effective.’’
The exception was child leukaemia, breast cancer and some brain cancers, he said.
‘‘Herceptin . . . improves survival by about 3 per cent. It improves the length of survival by an average of five months, but we pay $75,000 for it.
‘‘Even the makers of this group of drugs admit that it alone would not cure cancer, and in fact economists around the world have predicted that within a decade this group of drugs will cost the world $40 billion [every year].’’
Keytruda, which Pharmac is looking at fully funding from September, was another example, he said.
‘‘The data that we’ve got [on Keytruda] is actually very limited, maybe two years’ [worth].’’
In a main trial, two-thirds of people treated with Keytruda either had no change in tumour size or their tumours grew, according to Pharmac.
For one in three people, tumours shrank or disappeared Climate change is the most serious environmental issue New Zealanders face, according to a new report by the environment commissioner.
Dr Jan Wright said there was ‘‘no question’’ climate change was worrying and had flow-on effects, in her commentary on the government’s Environment Aotearoa 2015 report.
That report had singled out rapid growth in dairy farmland and surging carbon dioxide levels as twin threats to the country’s environment.
‘‘[Climate change] will impact completely. ‘‘It cost $300,000 a year ago, now it’s $200,000,’’ Tan said. ‘‘It equals to, I think, 10 hip replacements.’’
Pharmac announced this week that it had reached a preliminary agreement with Keytruda supplier Merck Sharp and Dohme (MSD) with a view to start fully funding the drug.
Keytruda lobbyists have said Pharmac’s delayed decision had cost lives.
‘‘[T]here’ve been real people who’ve missed out while the commercial negotiations have been undertaken . . . and some have died waiting for this announcement,’’ oncologist and Cancer Society medical director Chris Jackson said.
Tan outlined his theories on a radically different way of treating cancer at Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday.
He said immunotherapy drugs were based on traditional understandings of how cancer cells spread.
He looked at cancer and how it spread in a different way, similar to a beehive, with cancer stem cells being the queen bees that make other queens and worker bees (cancer cells).
Immunotherapy drugs went after the worker bees rather than the queen, he said. ‘‘But you’ve got to deal with the queen bees.’’
Gillies McIndoe researchers believe they have identified a way of dealing with the stem cells through a common regulatory system in the body.
That system, which has not been named as the institute waits for a patent, could be linked to 12 on the health of our sea, land, and freshwater, our unique and precious biodiversity, and our economy,’’ she said.
Urban areas would be vital in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, particularly from transport. ‘‘We must plan and develop our cities so that they are low-carbon as well as affordable.’’
Wright previously warned communities may have to be abandoned or left to deal with major financial costs because of sea-level rise.
Climate Change Issues Minister Paula Bennett pointed to the different types of cancer.
‘‘The exciting part is that regulatory system, we believe, can be manipulated by a handful of simple medications,’’ Tan said.
For that different form of treatment ‘‘momentous’’ Paris agreement where 175 countries signed up to lowering emissions.
‘‘Pressure is on us now to make sure that we keep up with that momentum – that actually it’s not just the signing of a document but that it’s real action.’’
Innovations were being made in transport and electric vehicles, agri-research and renewable energy – but there was ‘‘always more’’ that could be done, she said.
Work was under way to look at the ‘‘options’’ to meet New Zealand’s commitment to get emission levels down to 5 per cent below to be an option for cancer patients, it would need to be the subject of clinical trials. Tan said the institute did not have the resources for that to happen soon.
‘‘I think to do the study you’d 1990 levels by 2020.
Bennett said planning and development was primarily the responsibility of local councils and businesses.
Green Party co-leader James Shaw backed the call to bring down transport emissions, which he said was the ‘‘fastest and easiest’’ option.
He said the report was just another account of ever-increasing temperatures from climate change and New Zealand needed to ‘‘get our act together and do something about it’’.
‘‘Under the National Government New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions have increased about 20 per cent,’’ Shaw said. need somewhere around $5 million probably. We have to transfer the knowledge that we’ve gained from the laboratory to the treatment of patients.’’
Pharmac spokesman Simon
‘‘That is when we’ve had an emissions trading scheme, the whole point of which is to reduce emissions – so clearly we’re going in the wrong direction.’’
Transport Minister Simon Bridges agreed climate change was New Zealand’s biggest environmental issue, and a ‘‘definite priority’’ for his portfolio.
‘‘Every year we’re investing unprecedented amounts in public transport and cycleways,’’ he said.
‘‘We’ve got a significant electric vehicle policy we need to roll out and see real achievement made in.’’
The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) had carbon reduction measures England said Tan’s treatment ideas were ‘‘all worthy of investigation’’, but the methods he spoke of were experimental.
‘‘Anything we’re funding needs to be approved by MedSafe.’’ around fuel efficiency, he said. ‘‘It’s very much a process of just trying to do more where we sensibly can.’’
Climate change was one of four key areas Wright outlined: she also highlighted slow progress in sea protection, encouraged tree planting on unstable hill country, and raised concerns about New Zealand’s wildlife. ‘‘Our native birds and animals are under sustained attack from predators.’’
She called for the Ministry for the Environment to put out a report outlining priorities for action in response to her findings.
She also wanted the conclusions to be ‘‘made transparently on a reasoned basis’’. boy’s home.
In 1999 Houston confronted his father and suspended him, but at an executive meeting the church kept the allegations confidential.
The second preacher to visit New Zealand is Jentezen Franklin, who was last week announced as a member of Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Board to be announced later this month.
Trump stated on his website: ‘‘I have such tremendous respect and admiration for this group and I look forward to continuing to talk about the issues important to evangelicals, and all Americans, and the common sense solutions I will implement when I am president.’’
Franklin leads a 16,000-member congregation in Georgia, US, and an international television ministry that reaches millions of people.
Arise Church was asked for comment.
The Arise Church conference is scheduled for July 21-23.
Dr Swee Tan outlined his theories on a radically different way of treating cancer at a Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce breakfast. Senior pastor Jentezen Franklin will address an Arise Church conference in late July.