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Pharmac warns huge medicines fees increase

Pharmac warns huge fees will price medicines off the shelf

Green MP Sue Kedgley has released a January 2004 memorandum from Pharmac obtained under the Official Information Act that shows that there will be a massive escalation in the price of medicines if New Zealand joins the proposed Trans-Tasman Joint Therapeutics Goods Agency.

The Pharmac memorandum warns that the cost of registering a new generic medicine would increase from $8000, to over $100,000 - and that what Pharmac calls a "massive escalation in price could result in a dramatic change in the viability of some medicines, resulting in companies not bringing them into the market."

"Why would we want to enter an agency that is going to restrict access to cheaper generic medicines, increase the cost of medicines, and cost Pharmac - and hence taxpayers - between $85 million and $135 million over three years?" Ms Kedgley asked.

"And those estimates don't even include the impact of the Australia-USA free trade treaty on the costs and access to cheaper generic medicines. An Australian study estimates the treaty will increase the cost to Australia's pharmaceutical benefit scheme by a third. This would equate in New Zealand to an extra $200 million per year."

Ms Kedgley said serious questions needed to be asked about the reasons why the government seems hell-bent on joining the Joint Agency when it is clearly not in the national interest of New Zealand to do so. "Is there some hidden agenda here, or have officials failed to properly inform the government about the real risks of joining the joint Agency?"

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