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Patient Voice Aotearoa Colmar Brunton Survey Results

  • Over 3 in 10 New Zealanders know someone who has had to pay for an unfunded medicine
  • Nearly 1 in 2 New Zealanders believe access to modern medicines is worse compared to other developed countries
  • Majority of New Zealanders believe it is “extremely important” to fund all medicines for cancer and rare disorders for children
  • 9 in 10 New Zealanders believe that access to modern medicines is as, or more important than, access to Covid-19 vaccines
  • Almost 4 in 10 New Zealanders are not confident they, or someone they know, could access the best medicine if diagnosed with a disease or condition
  • 7 in 10 New Zealanders want Pharmac funded more
  • 7 in 10 New Zealanders say the issue could influence their General Election vote

Patient Voice Aotearoa, together with Breast Cancer Foundation NZ, Crohns and Colitis NZ, Multiple Myeloma NZ and Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia Advocates NZ commissioned a survey of 1,000 New Zealanders between 14 July and 21 July 2021. It has a margin of error of 3.1. As a part of that survey, the following question with possible answers, asked:

Are you aware of anyone in your family, friend or social circle in New Zealand that has had to pay for unfunded medicine for an illness or medicine?

Don’t know/unsure14%

How do you think access to modern medicines in New Zealand compares with other developed countries?


How important do you personally believe it is for New Zealand to fund all cancer medicines for children?

1Not important at all0
2 1%
3 6%
4 19%
5Extremely important73%
Don’t know 2%

How important do you personally believe it is for New Zealand to fund all rare disorder medicines for children?

1Not important at all1%
2 2%
3 12%
4 26%
5Extremely important58%
Don’t know 2%

In your personal view, do you believe that access to modern medicines that treat diseases and conditions, are less, equally, or more important, than access to Covid-19 vaccines?

Much less important than Covid-192%
A little less important than Covid-198%
About the same importance as Covid-1950%
A little more important than Covid-1922%
Much more important than Covid-1918%

If you, or someone you know, were diagnosed with a disease or condition, how confident are you, or they, could access the best medicine available to treat your condition or disease?

Not confident at all8%
Not very confident28%
Somewhat confident40%
Very confident6%

Pharmac, New Zealand’s Pharmaceutical Management Agency, is responsible for purchasing medicines on behalf of all New Zealanders. Prior to the Government’s 2021 budget, Pharmac released information that it would require an additional $417 million dollars annually to purchase 73 medicines that they would like to fund. The Government subsequently announced that Pharmac will receive an additional $200 million dollars over the next four years, as part of the Government’s 2021 budget. In your personal opinion, do you think the Government should be funding Pharmac:

Much less than planned3%
A little less than planned3%
About the same as planned16%
A little more than planned32%
Much more than planned38%
I don’t know/unsure8%

Would an increase in funding to improve New Zealand’s access to modern medicines influence your vote in an upcoming national election?

Not influence16%
Influence somewhat44%
Influence a lot27%
Don’t know/unsure13%

Chair of Patient Voice Aotearoa, Dr Malcolm Mulholland, states that the survey results confirm New Zealand is experiencing a medicines crisis at a time when New Zealanders are acutely worried about their own health and the Government is rolling out an unprecedented public health and vaccination campaign in the battle against Covid 19.

“These results confirm that a high percentage of New Zealanders know someone who has had to privately fund a medicine that is not subsidised by New Zealand’s medicine procurement agency, Pharmac. With almost half the population believing we have worse access to modern than other developed countries, and almost 40% of Kiwis not being confident they can access the best medicine available if they were diagnosed with a disease or illness, this represents a total lack of confidence in Pharmac in its ability to do the best it can for New Zealanders and their health needs.

Furthermore, the results confirm that New Zealanders are well aware of what the key issue is: a lack a funding on the part of the Government. New Zealanders are demanding that Pharmac be funded more or much more than what has been planned. Of particular importance is that the funding of Pharmac is clearly an election issue, with 7 in 10 kiwis saying they will vote accordingly. This awareness is heightened in the environment of getting vaccinated for Covid-19, as 90% see access to modern medicines being as or more important than being vaccinated.

“The survey result regarding the majority of New Zealanders wanting children to receive all access to medicines for both cancers and rare disorders, sends a clear signal to the Government’s consideration to stop funding all cancer medicines for New Zealand kids, as well as not funding all medicines for children with a rare disorder. New Zealanders’ awareness of this issue has been increased due to the sad plight of 35 kids who are desperate to receive Spinraza for Spinal Muscular Atrophy, as without it, their health will deteriorate and more will die. It goes without saying that these children are more vulnerable and void of any layer of protection against their own condition as well as Covid-19.

“The Government needs to take urgent action to address New Zealand’s medicine crisis. Most Kiwis are now making comparisons between the need to fund modern medicines and the Government’s response to Covid-19. Many are asking why someone with a cancer, rare disorder, or a chronic illness, is worth less than someone who contracts Covid-19. For one group, many New Zealanders know they are not getting a fair deal, whereas the Government has written a blank cheque to combat Covid-19.

“Patient Voice Aotearoa, along with a number of NGO’s and patients, from Te Reinga to Bluff, urge the Government to fund Pharmac properly now and to not discriminate according to what disease you have. Failure to do so, could affect you in the coming election.”

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