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Hodgson, Dunne split over medicines policy

Dr Jackie Blue MP National Party Associate Health Spokeswoman

31 May 2006

Hodgson, Dunne split over medicines policy

A split is developing between Health Minister Pete Hodgson and his associate, United Future Leader Peter Dunne, over the long-term medicines strategy, says National's Associate Health spokeswoman, Dr Jackie Blue.

"It was clear at today's Health Select Committee that Health Minister Pete Hodgson is distancing himself from Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne's handling of the strategy.

"During today's hearing, Pete Hodgson disagreed with comments by his underling and then refused to endorse another comment."

Mr Dunne said in his opening address to the Future Medicines Policy Summit in Wellington this week that there would not be a public forum as part of the medicines policy review because he did not want 'a wailing wall'.

"Today, Mr Hodgson did not want to comment on Mr Dunne's portfolio but was clearly at odds with him when he said he wasn't against the idea of a public forum.

"He then refused to agree with Mr Dunne's comment that he 'was not going to turn the system on its head because it had been working well'.

"Which Minister should the public be listening to on this issue - the Minister in charge of the medicines strategy or the Health Minister?

"I was not alone in finding Mr Dunne's 'wailing wall' remark offensive and insulting to New Zealanders, who foot the bill for pharmaceuticals.

"A review of the national medicines policy was a major policy platform for Mr Dunne at the last election, so I was surprised when he left the conference immediately after his opening address and wasn't seen again.

"This was a golden opportunity to listen and learn, because all the major stakeholders were there, but obviously he didn't think so," says Dr Blue.

ENDS

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