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December 2012 Publication year: 2012Source:Social Science & Medicine, Volume 75, Issue 12 In December 2008 the newly elected Prime Minister of New Zealand bypassed the agency that negotiates with manufacturers about the cost of medicines and agreed to fund Herceptin for women with early stage breast cancer for a twelve months course of treatment. This paper describes the unfolding of this decision and seeks to explain it in terms of the theory of countervailing powers, which has recently been applied to understand the rapid growth of medicines and the governance of the pharmaceutical industry. We explore the role of various actors in this debate about Herceptin funding, drawing on documentary analysis based on a systematic search of journals, websites and media databases. The case of Herceptin both confirms and questions the propositions of countervailing powers theory.
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