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Pharmac Under Attack by Pharmaceutical Industry


30 September

Pharmac Under Attack by Pharmaceutical Industry

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) rejects the pharmaceutical industry’s contention that Pharmac will not be affected by the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) currently being negotiated between eleven Asian and Pacific-rim countries including the United States and New Zealand.

Kevin Sheehy, general manager of Medicines New Zealand, dismissed analysis by visiting public health and trade expert Dr Deborah Gleeson that showed there is much in the TPPA that undermines the effectiveness of Pharmac.

Geoff Annals, NZNO chief executive commented on Sheehy’s dismissal saying; “It is not surprising to see the pharmaceutical industry rejecting concerns the TPPA will reduce the effectiveness of Pharmac because Pharmac is very successful in doing what it was set up to do: making medicines more affordable. Pharmac is the national medicines purchasing agency that has achieved the greatest success anywhere in the world in balancing the health interests of people and communities against the business interests of big medicines companies. Pharmac is under attack by the pharmaceutical industry because it is successful and the ‘Pharmac model’ is being adopted by other countries needing a better balance between business and health interests.”

In response to the industry argument that Pharmac will be improved by being forced to operate more transparently under the TPPA, Annals said that; “If Pharmac needs more transparency why attempt to force this through secret trade negotiations? Whose interests are being served? NZNO is concerned that US pharmaceutical interests are attempting to use the TPPA as a tool to undermine the effectiveness of Pharmac at serving the interests of New Zealanders.”

“Pharmac purchases medicines for New Zealanders at prices around half those achieved by Australia’s medicines purchasing agency and around a third the price demanded in the US. Yes, this is painful to the medicines industry but it enables New Zealand to afford better health services than otherwise. Analysis by Dr Gleeson and other experts of leaked drafts of the TPPA expose provisions designed to force up the price New Zealanders pay for medicines by attacking the mechanisms that make Pharmac effective.”

Annals concluded by commenting that; “Assurances that Pharmac will be preserved under the TPPA are empty when it is apparent the Pharmac envisaged is a Pharmac redesigned by US pharmaceutical firms to serve their interests not ours.”


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