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Surplus should give medicine spending a boost

October 13, 2006

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.”

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 improve access to new and currently restricted medicines.”

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 reviewed.

“It’s clear that the current system is not working for many New Zealanders,” Forman says. “We would hope that the new long-term medicines strategy will put ethical principles first in the provision of healthcare, not 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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