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Pharmac advice leaves Health Minister red-faced

Dr Jackie Blue MP
National Party Associate Health Spokeswoman

20 March 2006

Pharmac advice leaves Health Minister red-faced

Health Minister Pete Hodgson is getting bad advice from Pharmac, says National Party Associate Health spokeswoman Dr Jackie Blue.

“When the long-awaited medicines review finally happens it should be widened to include a thorough review of Pharmac's top management and spin doctors,” says Dr Blue.

"At a recent health select committee, Pharmac said New Zealanders had access to more drugs than Australians. This claim was parroted by Mr Hodgson in Parliament last week.

"At the time these claims didn't seem to add up as pharmaceutical per capita spending has flatlined over the past three years.

“Even Pharmac admitted during the select committee meeting that population funding for pharmaceuticals has not kept pace with inflation.

"Now the Researched Medicines Industry has released figures which expose these statements as manifestly untrue.*

“Another example of Pharmac’s botched advice was when former Health Minister Annette King was widely reported as saying that funding Herceptin would cost a staggering $300 million. The reality is that it will cost only one tenth of that figure to fund women with early breast cancer.”

When commenting yesterday on Pharmac's proposal to exclude a group of brain tumour patients from access to the drug Temozolomide, Pharmac Medical Director Dr Peter Moodie said: ‘We'd love to give it to everybody but there's not much sense giving it to someone when it wouldn't do much good’.

"Pharmac has asked for submissions on limiting access to Temozolomide, but why would anyone bother when Pharmac's top doctor has already made up his mind?”

ENDS

* Researched Medicines Industry press release: http://www.rmianz.co.nz/PHARMAC%20deceives.pdf

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