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Medicines Budget Boost Protecting More People

Plans to protect thousands more people against meningococcal disease and shingles shows how the Government’s big boost to health spending is helping New Zealanders, Health Minister Andrew Little says.

“We inherited a mess. When we came into Government, the health system – including the medicines budget – had been starved of money for years, despite record population growth,” Andrew Little said.

“In 2020, we promised to increase it by $200 million over four years. We’ve honoured that promise – and on top of that, we’ve put in another $71 million this year, with another $120 million boost in the pipeline for next year.

“The medicines budget is now 43 per cent bigger, under the Labour Government, than it was when we were elected in 2017. That means more medicines and other treatments for people who need them.”

Pharmac, the independent Government medicines funding agency, has announced it intends making Bexsero, a vaccination that protects against meningococcal disease, available for free for babies and for young people living in places like hostels, where they are in close contact with other people. It also plans to make vaccinations against shingles free for more people.

Andrew Little said Pharmac’s announcement was good news for New Zealanders, and another example of the Government fixing the health system.

“Our funding boost has allowed Pharmac to make an extra 189 funding decisions, including 59 new listings and the widening of access to 130 treatments, with many more – including the mengincoccal B and shingles vaccinations – coming down the track,” Andrew Little said.

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