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Turner: time for a serious medicines strategy

Media statement
For immediate release
Monday, 28 November 2005

Turner: time for a serious medicines strategy

United Future health spokeswoman, Judy Turner, says the fact that one in
five New Zealand patients fail to pick up prescriptions because they cost too much, is further evidence that New Zealand is long overdue for a serious whole-of-government look at the way we view pharmaceuticals.

"The current approach sees new and improved drugs competing for the precious dollars that PHARMAC has to spend," said Mrs Turner.

"The question that always arises when some new and exciting drug comes on the market is 'can we afford it or is it too expensive?'

"Immediately we are off on the wrong track, because the question we should be asking is, what will it cost us if we don't make available this new medicinal opportunity?

"The costs associated with deterioration in one's health are immense, in time off work, avoidable hospitalisations, welfare benefits and the like.

"United Future believes that one of the most significant achievements in the confidence and supply agreement with the Labour government is the opportunity to develop a Medicines Strategy, so that the cost benefits from new medicines can be better thought through.

"Peter Dunne's appointment as Associate Minister of Health is a task-specific appointment to make sure that the development of this strategy is progressed.

"Other jurisdictions are streets ahead of us in this regard and we need to see this work as an essential way forward for improving the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders currently unable to get their hands on the medicines they read about from overseas sources.

ENDS

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