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PHARMAC cuts taxpayer bill by almost $500 million

Media Release

PHARMAC cuts taxpayer bill by almost half a billion dollars

Figures just released by PHARMAC show that the current drug bill would have cost the taxpayer almost half a billion dollars more without its intervention.

In the just released Annual Review, PHARMAC says that the drug bill would have soared to a massive $1.39 billion, another $477 million on top of the current bill of $662 million. And it says forecast figures show that without any interventions, by the year 2003 the drug bill would have more than doubled from an estimated $695 million to $1.426 billion.

Chief Executive Wayne McNee says the results are extremely pleasing as it shows that the Government agency is achieving what it was set up to do in 1993.

“We could not have afforded to sit back and simply pay what drug companies were expecting for their drugs. The pharmaceutical budget was spiralling out of control and there was no way we could sustain it. PHARMAC’s job has been to make sure that New Zealanders are getting a fair deal and at the same time getting access to important medicines.”

Wayne McNee says one of the highlights of the year has been the biggest ever tender round involving 153 products and resulting in savings of $23.1 million until year end June.

“The cost savings achieved for these drugs is a real success story for the taxpayer and the health system. In the latest tender round we were able to achieve a massive 92 percent price reduction on one drug. This allows the savings made to be redistributed for the funding of other pharmaceuticals.”

Wayne McNee says there have been 20 new chemical entities listed on the Pharmaceutical Schedule this year. Access has also been widened for 19 while the range of presentations has been expanded for 13 agents that were already funded.

“By making savings in one area we are able to reinvest in others meaning more people have access to drugs. For example this year we have widened access to inhaled long acting beta-agonists for people with asthma, alendronate for people with osteoporosis, along with treatments for HIV/AIDs.”

PHARMAC’s biggest investment continues to be cholesterol-lowering drugs, with spending increasing by $7.5 million from $37.1 million last year to $44.6 million this year (excluding rebates). Other pharmaceuticals to be at the top of the expenditure table include ulcer drugs ($42.7 million) and anti-psychotics ($29.8 million).

For more information phone (021) 429-212.

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