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Budget and access to medicines for New Zealanders

Budget and access to medicines for New Zealanders

The promised extra $185.7m for medicines in the community over the next four years is a significant and welcome first step toward closing the growing gap between the number and quality of medicines available to Australians, as compared with those here in New Zealand,” said Dr Pippa MacKay, the Chairman of the Researched Medicines Industry Association (RMI).

“However, the gap is substantial and has widened over the past few years. Since June 2000 84 more medicines made available to Australians through the PBS (the equivalent to our Pharmaceutical Schedule) than were funded in New Zealand[1].

“We recognise the recession has imposed severe restrictions on any further new funding for medicines, so the RMI believes that two specific steps should be taken to ensure that the maximum value can be gained from the current budget.

1. Review those medicines currently funded that are inexpensive and available from supermarkets.
2. Publish and adhere to a List of Need i.e. the prioritised list of medicines recommended by PHARMAC’s clinical assessment committee (PTAC).

“Given the Government’s commitment to move towards parity with Australia, some hard decisions are required, not the least of them being the issue of wide distribution of inexpensive over-the-counter (OTC) medicines with only a $3 co-payment - at the cost of denying modern, innovative prescription-only drugs,” she said.

[1] Michael Wonder, Novartis Australia, and Cristine Della Barca, Subscripts New Zealand.

ENDS

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