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Doctors want increased funding for medicines

Tuesday 21 February 2006

Survey shows doctors want increased funding for medicines and Pharmac reviewed

An overwhelming majority of general practitioners and specialists want Pharmac to be reviewed and believe increased funding of medicines should be a high priority for the Government, according to a UMR Research survey released today.

Commissioned by Pfizer New Zealand, the survey results provide even more evidence that the development of a national medicines policy and review of Pharmac needs to be conducted with urgency.

The survey showed that 75% of the 529 clinicians (GPs and specialists) surveyed, support a general review of Pharmac’s effectiveness while only 7% oppose a review, and 15% are unsure.

Pfizer New Zealand’s General Manager Mark Crotty said the survey results, combined with the UMR Research into public attitudes towards PHARMAC released last year, and the analysis written by Dr Alex Sundakov on the social and economic impact of Pharmac, demonstrate beyond all reasonable doubt that the development of the national medicines strategy has become an urgent priority.

Mr Crotty said other key findings of the research include:

· 71% rate as poor to very poor, Pharmac’s performance in ensuring New Zealander’s access to new medicines is as good as countries like Australia, compared with 7% who rate it good to excellent, while 21% think it is average (gave a mid-point rating).

· 70% believe increased funding for Pharmac should be a high priority for the Government, compared with just 7% who think it should be a low priority, and 22% seeing it as a moderate priority.

· 57% rate as poor to very poor, Pharmac’s consultation with clinicians over which medicines to subsidise, compared with 9% who give it a good to excellent assessment, and 31% who think it is average.

· 52% rated as poor to very poor, Pharmac’s performance being held accountable for decisions, compared with 13% who rate it good to excellent, and 33% who assess it as average.

· 54% of clinicians consider Pharmac’s performance with the setting of diagnostic thresholds for the approval of special authority restrictions (which deny access to funded medicines more freely available in other countries) is poor to very poor, compared with 15% who rate it well and 29% who consider it average.

Mr Crotty said that while Pfizer welcomed the Government’s announcement last year to develop a national medicines policy, examining the way in which PHARMAC operates and the funding for medicines is an urgent priority to ensure that patients gain access to medicines, and Doctors are not restricted in treatment options.

In August last year Pfizer released the UMR Public Opinion Research findings that nearly seven out of 10 (68%) adult New Zealanders wanted an independent review of PHARMAC, with 50 per cent saying New Zealanders had worse access to new medicines than countries such as Australia.

Mr Crotty said that the research clearly shows that Doctors and the public are looking to the Government to review Pharmac and its funding, and then act to improve New Zealanders’ access to medicines.

ENDS

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