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National to boost Pharmac funding by $75m

Paul Hutchison MP National Party Health Spokesman

6 September 2005

National to boost Pharmac funding by $75m

A National Government will boost funding to Pharmac by $75 million over the next three years to expand the availability of new drugs, says National's Health spokesman, Paul Hutchison.

National announced its Health Policy in New Plymouth today.

Dr Hutchison says New Zealand's pattern of pharmaceutical use has diverged from that of other OECD countries, and we are falling behind in our access to innovative treatments.

"It is likely that this is adversely affecting health outcomes, and shifting costs to more expensive end-stage interventions. And it may well be contributing to keeping more people on sickness and invalids' benefits.

"New Zealand's very tight rein on pharmaceutical spending has undoubtedly kept costs down, and Pharmac has served New Zealand well in achieving this.

"But the evidence is growing that the cost savings from a tight pharmaceutical budget are now starting to be offset by increased costs elsewhere in our society from a lower quality of life, higher levels of disability, and more end-stage interventions. Some estimates suggest these costs are likely to be very significant, even as high as hundreds of millions a year.

"National will undertake a review of New Zealand's pharmaceutical policy, to consider the trade-offs between pharmaceutical and other forms of treatment, and to explore options for providing patients with a greater choice of drugs," says Dr Hutchison.

ENDS


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