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PHARMAC numbers are wrong

Researched Medicines Industry Association
Media Release
19 March 2006

PHARMAC numbers are wrong

PHARMAC is deceiving both the Minister of Health and the rest of New Zealand with the constant claims that New Zealand has more funded drugs than Australia(1).

“This claim is completely untrue” the RMI chair Dr Pippa MacKay said.

“The bottom line is that Australia has 792 chemical entities and a total of 2,500 products on its Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule while New Zealand only has 713 chemical entities and a total of 1,815 products on its Schedule(2)."

“There is no reason why New Zealanders should not have similar access to medicines as do people in other developed countries and even these numbers don’t tell the whole story.

PHARMAC’s eligibility rules for medicines that are ultimately listed on the Schedule are far more restrictive than in other countries, which means that only a fraction of those who should benefit from the treatment actually do.

“It is a scandal that New Zealanders are deprived of medicines that are available in Australia.

“It is no wonder that we see the constant sad parade of people with tragic illnesses begging the government to fund drugs that will help them.

“It is time to stop the spin, the claims being made are manifestly untrue.

“Government should be looking at the amount of money it makes available for pharmaceuticals, not wasting its time on trying to convince New Zealanders that we are well off. We’re not,” Dr MacKay said.


Numbers on Australian PBS3 vs PHARMAC Community Schedule4
Australia New Zealand
Chemical entities(5) 792 713
Pharmaceuticals(6) 874 815
Products 2500(7) 1815(8)


1 NZ Doctor 8 March 2006;
2 See sources over.

3 December 2005 PBS Generic/Proprietary Index and extemporaneously compounded pharmaceuticals.

4 August 2005 Pharmaceutical Schedule Section B (excluding extemporaneously compounded products)
AND Section C (extemporaneously compounded pharmaceuticals).

5 Chemical entities only. Chemical entities appearing in more than one therapeutic group/sub-group were counted under each group/sub-group. Includes emollients and barriers.

Excludes (NZ): Blood and urine testing strips and blood glucose meters; Insulin syringes and needles; Sunscreens; Non-hormonal contraceptives; Pregnancy testing kits; Peak flow meters; Influenza vaccine (not funded out of pharmaceutical budget); Urine diagnostic sticks; A steroid appearing in each of high/medium/low dose within a therapeutic subgroup (e.g. HRT, asthma) was counted only once per therapeutic sub-group; “PCT- only” pharmaceuticals (not funded out of Pharmaceutical Budget).

Excludes (Australia): Blood and urine testing strips and blood glucose meters; Insulin syringes and needles; Sunscreens; Non-hormonal contraceptives; Pregnancy testing kits; Peak flow meters; Urine diagnostic sticks; Foods (e.g amino acid formulas, milk powder, mineral mixtures); Bandages, dressings, cotton wool, gloves, pressure reducing products; those items on the Dental Benefit Scheme and/or Repatriation scheme already in another therapeutic subgroup

6 As defined the NZ Public Health & Disability Act

7 Department of Health & Ageing Annual Report 2004/05

8 All items on PHARMAC schedule i.e. all brands, presentations, strengths of chemical entities plus all other products on the schedule.

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