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Cash surplus should give medicine spending a boost

Cash surplus should give medicine spending a boost, says ATM

The Access to Medicines Coalition (ATM) says it hopes a $200 million cash injection by the Government into elective surgery waiting lists earlier this month will be followed up by similar efforts to help those on waiting lists for medicines.

A comprehensive healthcare system should be balanced in how it allocates its treatment resources, says ATM spokesman John Forman. “While we welcome the decision to increase funding for elective surgery, it’s important to remember that New Zealand is still falling behind other OECD countries with respect to funding new medications, many of which have already been approved by Medsafe as suitable for use in New Zealand. Access to some other funded medicines is far more restricted here than in many comparable countries”.

The recent announcement of a substantial Government budget surplus provides an opportunity for greater spending on medicines. “There are thousands of New Zealanders waiting on medications which will greatly improve their quality of life,” Forman says. “Pharmac itself has called for greater investment in medicines and they must be given the financial support needed to reduce the delays in listing new medications on the pharmaceutical schedule, and to improve access to some listed medicines that are currently restricted.”
Total spending on medicines has been drastically restricted in the last decade and serious disparities in health status are emerging for many people who require treatment with medicines, compared to other health interventions.

A significant cash injection for Pharmac would be a suitable short-term alleviation for patients waiting on medicines, but in the long-term the whole drug funding system needs to be looked at. “It is clear that the current system is not working for many, many of New Zealanders,” Forman says. “We would hope that the new long-term medicines strategy would put ethical principles first in the provision of healthcare. That should give a much better chance of equity in health outcomes from medicines, and avoid the serious anomalies that occur from excessive concentration on financial ones.”

ATM combines the voices of 25 non-government organisations advocating for increased access to medicines in New Zealand. Members of the coalition are all disease-specific groups that provide support, information/education, health promotion or clinical services to their constituent groups.

ENDS

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