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Funding All Medicines On Waitlist The Only Fair Solution To Election Bribe Blunder, Says Rare Disorders NZ

Rare Disorders NZ is dismayed about how poorly the election promise to fund 13 new cancer medicines has been handled and expects the Government to recognise the only solution to remedy the harm caused is to increase Pharmac’s funding by at least the $490 million per year needed to fund all the medicines on the Options for Investment list.

The Government recently acknowledged that it will not be able to deliver on National’s election promise to fund 13 named cancer medicines in this year’s budget, which was a huge blow for patients desperately waiting for access to these life-saving medicines.

“It is highly insensitive and careless to single out certain medicines in an election bribe. Not only does it make those waiting on the medicines not promised feel less valued, but if the homework has not even been done to be 100% sure that the promise can be delivered, it leaves families devastated,” says Rare Disorders NZ Chief Executive Chris Higgins.

“These medicines are not ‘nice-to-haves’ – they are literally the difference between life and death for many of the patients in need of them.”

There are currently over 90 medicines on Pharmac’s Options for Investment (OFI) list of approved medicines waiting for funding. Pharmac does not disclose the ranking of the medicines on the OFI list to avoid compromising negotiations for the best price with pharmaceutical companies. The cost to clear this waitlist is estimated to be $490 million per year.

“It is highly inappropriate for politicians to meddle and decide which New Zealanders deserve access to treatment, and compromises New Zealand’s position to negotiate a good price,” says Higgins.

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“This whole election bribe shambles only demonstrates ignorance of the assessment, procurement and funding process of medicines in New Zealand.”

New Zealand ranks at the bottom of the OECD for access to modern medicines, investing only 0.4% of GDP in medicines, compared to the OECD average of 1.4% of GDP. New Zealand’s investment in rare disorder medicines is extremely poor with less than 1% of Pharmac’s pharmaceutical budget in 19/20 spent on rare disorder medicines according to the independent Pharmac review.

“If the Government finds a way around the Pharmac model to fund these 13 medicines promised, we expect others waiting for medicines on the OFI list will want a similar solution,” says Higgins.

“The Government has painted itself in a corner and the only way out that avoids the whole Pharmac model being dismantled and fairly respects all New Zealanders waiting for critical medicines is for the Government to provide the additional $490 million a year in funding needed for Pharmac to clear the OFI list.”

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