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Drug company survey shows doctors rate PHARMAC

21 February 2006

Drug company survey shows doctors rate PHARMAC performance positively

A drug company-backed survey issued today shows many doctors have a positive view of PHARMAC's overall performance.

The survey, commissioned by Pfizer and carried out by UMR research, showed more than two-thirds of doctors who responded (68%) thought PHARMAC's overall performance was satisfactory or positive. Further, 81% thought PHARMAC's budget management was satisfactory or positive, while 74% thought the performance of the Pharmacology and Therapeutics Advisory Committee (PTAC) was satisfactory or positive.

PHARMAC chief executive Wayne McNee says the most significant finding is that 67% of doctors think PHARMAC does a satisfactory or good job of balancing funding limitations to ensure the best health outcomes for patients.

"This is PHARMAC's fundamental role and outlined in the legislation," Wayne McNee says. "It is heartening to see doctors recognize the difficult balancing act that PHARMAC carries out."

"However, it is difficult to draw meaningful conclusions from a survey that only had a 35% response rate."

The survey also contained errors, such as stating PHARMAC "invites" clinicians to be members of the Pharmacology and Therapeutics Advisory Committee (PTAC).

"PTAC members are nominated by their professional bodies - usually the medical Colleges - and appointed by the Director-General of Health," Wayne McNee points out.

"It's also worth noting that the PHARMAC Board includes a professor of general practice, two DHB Board members, and a Maori representative. Board meetings are also attended by a professor of medicine, who is also a pharmacologist, PHARMAC's Medical Director and a DHB representative."

Wayne McNee says PHARMAC's view is that there needs to be sustainable increases in the pharmaceutical budget to enable new investments to be made.

"We agree that it is necessary to have increases in the budget, and have been achieving that for the past three years. The three-year funding path is also helping us to plan better," he adds.

"We also have to bear in mind that money spent on pharmaceuticals is money not spent elsewhere in the health sector, and that DHBs have to balance the demands on their budgets."


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