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Survey supports National’s view

Paul Hutchison MP
National Party Health Spokesman
29 August 2005

Survey supports National’s view

National Party Health spokesman Paul Hutchison says a UMR survey of public opinion showing most New Zealanders want an independent review of Pharmac indicates the depth of concern about the Government’s medicines buying agency.

He is commenting on a UMR survey of public attitudes towards Pharmac which was released today.

“Under a National Government there will be an independent review of Pharmac. There are widespread concerns that Pharmac’s preoccupation with keeping costs down is increasing the number of people having to receive more expensive medical or surgical treatment later on,” says Dr Hutchison.

“This is false economy. Pharmac has served New Zealand well in keeping costs down, but there is growing concern that their purchasing focus is too narrow and many people don’t have the same choice or access to medicines that our Australian counterparts have.

“The decision last year to remove a sustained release morphine sulphate from the market left terminally ill cancer patients in great pain, unable to access the pain killing drug they found suited them best. The decision was callous and later reversed. Patients should not have to spend their last days adjusting to a different drug.

“The fiasco over flu vaccine earlier this year was the result of arrogance. Drug companies warned of the dangers of supply tender processes and New Zealanders were the losers. Health Minister Annette King failed to grasp this important issue, or take responsibility.

“While the cost of medicines must be controlled, it is vital that the health system makes rational decisions in the national interest, taking a whole of health sector approach. What we have is an agency too concerned with driving down the costs of medicines, with less regard for the implications for other parts of the health system,” says Dr Hutchison.


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