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Good vaccine news, but King too slow

Paul Hutchison - National Party Health Spokesman

18 March 2005

Good vaccine news, but King too slow

The announcement that GlaxoSmithKline will supply 360,000 more doses of effective flu vaccine demonstrates a highly ethical and positive response from the company that lost the sole supply of the vaccine, says National’s Health spokesman, Paul Hutchison.

“It is good to hear that vulnerable New Zealanders are more likely to get their flu vaccine this year, though some will still miss out,” says Dr Hutchison.

“However, this issue has highlighted the point that careful analysis is needed of the way Pharmac makes its decisions.

“Pharmac has a tough job to do and has served New Zealand well in terms of keeping costs down.

“However, with the flu vaccine, which changes composition on a yearly basis and is relied upon by 700,000 people, it is vital to have a secure supply.

“I urge the Government and Pharmac to re-evaluate the sole supply tender process, to help avoid a repeat of this year’s problems.”

Dr Hutchison says Health Minister Annette King should have acted much faster than she did when first told there was a problem on February 28.

“It is inconceivable that Pharmac, the Ministry of Health and the Annette King did not know the nature of the problem within a few days.

“Ms King kept the public in the dark, yet she still fails to admit it and accept that she made a major mistake,” says Dr Hutchison.

ENDS

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