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Medicines budget needs $350m boost

17 June 2008

Medicines budget needs $350m boost to catch up to Australia

Cancer Society says New Zealand languishes below OECD countries

An immediate injection of $350 million is needed to just bring New Zealand up to Australia’s level of medicines funding, Cancer Society chief executive Dalton Kelly told an important health sector forum in Wellington today.

He said that in Australia `funding means funding’ and patients don’t have to fight for a full course of treatment the way some New Zealand patients do.

The ground-breaking conference in Wellington has brought groups including consumer organizations, officials, and medical specialists, to search for a fair solution to the problem of funding high-cost, highly specialised medicines.

The conference, in association with the NZ Medical Association, the Access to Medicines Coalition and the Research Medicine Industry Association, aims to get all players working towards a set of guidelines which can make the process fair.

Mr Kelly told delegates that a $350 million funding boost was “only a fraction of the cost of a new stadium for Auckland or a new warship,” but would make a real difference to the growing problem of affordable access to high cost, highly specialised medicines.

The conference began with stories from three people directly affected by lack of access to these high cost medicines, including Aucklander Steve Koerber who considered moving his family to Australia to access the treatment needed for his severe arthritis. He now pays almost $25,000 a year for drugs which allow him to continue working and have good quality of life.

Addressing the conference are:

- Reknowned ‘radio doctor’ Dr Norman Swan, a multi-award winning medical broadcaster and investigative journalist.
- Alex Sundakov – economist and author of an analysis into New Zealand’s medicines funding situatuion
- Dr Peter Foley (Chairman of the New Zealand Medical Association)
- Matthew Brougham, CEO of Pharmac

A similar collaborative forum was held in Australia last year, where it led to changes in the funding system that gave more patients access to these highly specilalised medicines.


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