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Why we need a Medicines Strategy!

For immediate release Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Why we need a Medicines Strategy!

Complaints by Mr Steve Koerbers and other sufferers of psoratic arthritis that they are not entitled to subsidised access to the new Humira treatment highlight yet again why New Zealand has been in desperate need of a principle-based approach to the provision of pharmaceuticals, according to UnitedFuture deputy leader, Judy Turner.

Mr Koerber's described for the Herald the pain and disfigurement that accompany his rarer form of arthritis and talks of shifting to Australia where the new Humira injections that improve the quality of life of arthritic patients considerably and do not have the awful nauseating side-effects, are provided free.

“Humira is a drug prescribed for people with the more severe cases where other treatments do not work.

“It costs about $20,000 a year and therefore is out of the reach of sufferers who can't finance the treatment themselves. In New Zealand currently folk with psoratic arthritis like Mr Koerbers are not included in the subsidy cohort.”

Responding to a constant barrage of complaints by New Zealand health consumers about the unavailability of cutting edge pharmaceuticals that are readily available overseas, UnitedFuture negotiated as part of their Supply and Confidence agreement with the Labour government the development of New Zealand's first ever national medicines strategy.

The document called "Medicines New Zealand" was released before Christmas and outlines a new approach to ensuring that New Zealanders do have access to the medicine they need regardless of their ability to pay within the government funding provided.

Along with the strategic plan is a specific action plan outlining all the steps that now need to be taken to implement this new principled approach.

Consumers like Mr Koerbers are to be treated as key stakeholders in the decision making process.

“UnitedFuture's leader Peter Dunne has delivered in just two years what other countries took 15 to develop.

“Yet again we see an example of the significant projects MMP parties can secure for all New Zealanders by working productively with who ever is the government of the day,” said Mrs Turner.


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