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Lie Down For Life: Today

· One in 50 New Zealanders demand immediate Pharmac change

· Petition signed by over 100,000 Kiwis presented to Parliament today

· Kiwis nationwide participated in ‘Lie Down for Life’ across the country to mark the moment and call for change

One in 50 New Zealanders have today demanded a significant budget increase and independent review of Pharmac. Their voices were heard loud and clear at a series of protests held across the country, culminating in the 100,000 person-strong petition being handed to Parliament in Wellington.

The petition, presented by Patient Voice Aotearoa, is calling for the Government to conduct an external reform of Pharmac, and to double the budget Pharmac currently receives in next week’s budget, with a plan to triple the budget of Pharmac within two years.

As well as the petition handover in Wellington, New Zealanders took part in a national ‘Lie Down for Life’ today in Whangarei, Auckland, Hamilton, Whakatane, Hastings, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Greymouth, Dunedin and Christchurch. At each event a list of near 50 names of New Zealanders who have died due to a lack of access of drugs was read out.

“New Zealand is at the bottom of the developed world when it comes to funding medicines that either save lives, prolong lives, or improve lives,” said PVA Chairperson Malcolm Mulholland. “Kiwis are dying as a direct result of this.”

“It is a disgrace, and completely at odds with the current Government’s ‘Be Kind’ rhetoric. It is quite simple - unless the Government acts, New Zealanders will continue to die without adequate access to modern medicines.”

Pharmac is now one of the most poorly funded medicine buying agencies in the OECD. There are over 100 medicines on Pharmac’s waiting list alone. New Zealanders only have 33% of Australia’s medicine budget per capita. The effects of this are far and widespread.

“Kiwis are becoming medical refugees and fleeing to Australia to access medicine that they should be able to access here,” said Mulholland. “Why should New Zealanders be denied access to medicines that countries like Mexico, Lebanon and Latvia all have, let alone Australia and the UK? We just want to have the same chance at life as people living in countries across the rest of the developing world have.”

“Our children are our taonga. They are precious, but not in the eyes of our Government,” said Fiona Tolich, trustee of PVA, and advocate for rare disorder SMA. “Children with rare disorders like SMA and other rare diseases and illnesses, deserve a system that will give them every opportunity to survive, not a system that measures their decline. We must fix this crisis so we are not selecting who lives and who dies.”

The Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was invited to receive the petition in Wellington today, but declined.

Patient Voice Aotearoa is a collective of patients, caregivers, whanau, advocates and charitable organisations, campaigning together for the rights of New Zealand patients.

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