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New Zealanders Miss Out on Timely Access to New Medicines

11 March 2014

New Zealanders Miss Out on Timely Access to New Medicines

Australia is to gain access to new medicines at an even faster rate thanks to a new streamlined process to reduce the time taken to list medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme while New Zealand patients by comparison continue to receive access to new medicines at a painfully slow rate.

Last week, Australian Health Minister Peter Dutton announced that the Pharmaceutical Benefits Pricing Authority reviews will be removed from the PBS price negotiation framework as of 1 April. The Government has decided to implement a new streamlined process to reduce the time taken to list medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and therefore improve access to medicines.

Kevin Sheehy, General Manager for Medicines New Zealand, says “I applaud the Australian Government for this move. Removing barriers to access means that patients will receive new innovative medicines they need more quickly which improves their quality of life and the contribution they can make to the economy.”

By comparison, New Zealand is already far behind Australia when it comes to access to medicines.

A study by Michael Wonder and Richard Milne which was published in the New Zealand Medical Journal in November 2011 showed that out of 136 new prescription medicines first listed in the Australian Schedule of pharmaceutical benefits only 59 or 43% of these were listed in the New Zealand schedule.

The listing of the 59 medicines in New Zealand also occurred on average 2.7 years later than in Australia.

“Medicines are vital to achieving the best health outcomes for New Zealanders and any delay in access only slows down their potential benefits getting to patients. Medicines New Zealand calls on the Government in election year to take a fresh look at medicines access and reallocate some of its health budget into having new medicines listed more quickly” Kevin Sheehy says.


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