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PHARMAC Bill Going Before Parliament Today

PHARMAC Bill Going Before Parliament Today

Heather Roy Wednesday, 15 March 2006 Press Releases - Health

A Bill by ACT Health Spokesman Heather Roy, which would remove PHARMAC's exemption from Part 2 of the Commerce Act, is due to be debated by Parliament today.

"It is time for Parliament to remove this exemption which allows PHARMAC to engage in anti-competitive practices - especially as PHARMAC frequently comments that it never uses the exemption," Mrs Roy said.

"There must be a clear and continuing justification for exemptions to the Commerce Act.

"PHARMAC has been successful at making savings in pharmaceutical purchasing, but it is debatable whether its efforts to save money have been in the best health interests of New Zealanders. PHARMAC's sole supply and deal making strategies have resulted in less competition in the pharmaceutical market and less choice for patients and their doctors when prescribing.

"Kiwis don't necessarily receive the best medicine for their condition, they receive PHARMACs choice - usually the cheapest treatment on offer - or some drugs are completely beyond reach.

"Herceptin may be able to prevent recurrence of breast cancer in half of treatable patients. Some people have hailed it as a wonder drug, but PHARMAC has so far refused to subsidise it in all but advanced cases.

"PHARMAC has also refused to subsidise new treatments for Alzheimer's disease, which would have allowed a significant delay in the onset of dementia symptoms for some patients.

"Agencies of the Crown, including PHARMAC, should be subject to the same scrutiny as others when engaged in trade.

"The Public Health and Disabilities (Enhancement of Competition) Amendment Bill will allow that, and I hope Parliament sends it to a Select Committee for consideration," Mrs Roy said.

ENDS

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