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Pfizer Disappointed By Weak Pharmac Response

31 August 2005

Pfizer Disappointed By Weak Pharmac Response To Economic Report

Pfizer New Zealand is disappointed, but not surprised, that PHARMAC has failed to address any of the serious issues that have been raised in the Alex Sundakov report on the impact of the country's restrictive medicines policy on the health and well being of New Zealanders, Pfizer General Manager Mark Crotty said today.

"To simply say that this is about healthcare companies wanting to make profits is a cheap shot, and ignores the concerns of nearly seven out of ten New Zealanders who are worried about lack of access to medicines and want PHARMAC to be reviewed."

"To also make out that PHARMAC is doing a good job because it funds 80% of all medicines sold in New Zealand is misleading the public."

"Between June 1999 and 2004 PHARMAC has reimbursed only one quarter of new and alternative brand medicines that are available in Australia (Australia 778 medicines, New Zealand 203 medicines), yet for the past three financial years PHARMAC has consistently under spent its budget."

"The report found that PHARMAC's restrictive policies and policies have resulted in significant cost shifts occurring to other areas of healthcare provision and the economy."

"Given that the total public health budget in New Zealand has nearly doubled to $9.5 billion in the last six years, the findings of the report challenge Government decision makers on whether they have got the policy right."

"The report also found that the costs incurred from denying access to new medicines, far exceed and outweigh any cost benefits gained. Castalia believes the costs due to the current policies run into the hundreds of millions of dollars whereas the money saved is quite small."

"The report found that since 1997, PHARMAC's policies have meant New Zealand has slashed its spending on pharmaceuticals as a percentage of the health budget, meaning now New Zealand spends less than half the OECD average on pharmaceuticals."

"Contrary to the statement released by PHARMAC in response to the report, neither Pfizer nor the Castalia report are advocating that the current level of funding should be doubled."

"However, Pfizer is strongly of the view that the report proves that very serious questions need to be asked about the current government policy on the health of New Zealanders.

"The report finds that as a probable consequence of limiting access to medicines, New Zealand's health outcomes are far worse than that in Australia, specifically in cardiovascular and mental health."

"Furthermore, as a result of these policies Castalia believes New Zealanders are more likely to be disabled as compared to comparative countries and that such policies have had a significant negative impact on the healthcare culture in New Zealand."

"Clearly, as the report finds, the current approach to the reimbursement of pharmaceuticals is not sustainable in the medium term. Castalia believes it is now important to undertake a far‑reaching review of New Zealand's pharmaceutical policy, and Pfizer supports this view."

"Pfizer New Zealand commissioned the research late last year after conducting a perception audit of politicians, the media and some patient groups regarding PHARMAC and the pharmaceutical industry."

"Participants expressed a need for research on the social and economic impact of PHARMAC's funding levels and patient access to medicines to back up the concerns being expressed by medical professionals and pharmaceutical companies that New Zealanders are missing out on medicines more freely available in other developed countries."

"Pfizer New Zealand is committed to working with the Government to develop policies which deliver better access to innovative medicines to patients and doctors.

ENDS

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