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NZers pay price for sole-supplier policy

Media Statement
For immediate release
Wednesday, 13 April 2005

Dunne: New Zealanders pay price for sole-supplier policy

New Zealanders only appear to qualify for modern Pharmac-subsidised drugs about the same time they see bright white lights and long tunnels to deceased loved ones, United Future leader Peter Dunne said today.

“Basically, getting the best available medications from Pharmac has been turned into a near-death experience - otherwise you just have to take the cheapest one they can dish out,” he said after tackling Health Minister Annette King in Parliament today.

Pharmac’s sole-supplier policy has again been found wanting with asthmatics reporting problems with Salamol, the cheaper alternative that has replaced Ventolin, with a number of reports of the new inhaler blocking.

“This product is being foisted upon asthmatics, despite similar problems being reported in Britain.

“Unfortunately, asthmatics join the long list of New Zealanders in need of medication who are being given no real choice because of Pharmac’s sole-supplier policy,” he said.

“Just how many more supposedly ‘one-off’ problems will the Government require before it questions this policy?” Mr Dunne asked Mrs King.

He said the policy also meant problems for some asthmatics with Salamol’s make-up being unsuitable for those who are alcohol-intolerant or unable to take alcohol for cultural or religious reasons.

Ends

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