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New Zealand high on funded drugs list

18 May 2005

New Zealand high on funded drugs list

Fewer New Zealanders are likely to pay for their medicines than people living in most other countries, research recently published in Canada shows.

A report published by the Canadian Institute of Health Information compares public and private-funded medicine across a range of countries. Data shows that New Zealanders are more likely to take medicine that is government-funded than people in other developed countries.

Medicines subsidised through Government drug-funder PHARMAC account for just under 80% of all medicines sold in New Zealand. This includes medicines sold over the counter in pharmacies, and medicines used in hospitals. The proportion of prescription drugs that are subsidised is even higher.

"These data show that New Zealanders are far more likely to benefit from Government-funded pharmaceuticals than people living in many other countries," says PHARMAC's Chief Executive Wayne McNee.

"This is important as it shows the commitment of the New Zealand Government to funding medicines, more so than most other major countries studied in this recent Canadian report."

New Zealand's proportion compares with 74% Government funding in Germany, 37% in Canada, and only 19% in the United States. This contrasts sharply with recent pharmaceutical industry claims that New Zealanders are paying out of their own pocket for their medicines.

"While it is true that a small number of New Zealanders are choosing to pay for medicines that are not funded, the vast majority of medicine costs are paid for by PHARMAC and DHBs on behalf of the Government," adds Wayne McNee.

"Despite claims from the pharmaceutical industry, New Zealanders enjoy a very high level of Government funding, much more so than countries like Canada and the US, and more than almost all European countries."

Since 1993, PHARMAC has added over 150 new medicines to the subsidised list, including 15 in the 2004 year alone. In the current year, new medicines have been added for severe pain, diabetes, HIV and respiratory disease, among others.

Wayne McNee says PHARMAC has plans to continue its investment programme to ensure New Zealanders continue to have access to new medicines.


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