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Budget disappointing for medicines access

Access To Medicines Coalition (ATM)
MEDIA RELEASE: May 17, 2007

Budget disappointing for medicines access

The extra $5.4m allocated in this year’s Budget for community-based pharmaceuticals is a drop in the bucket, says the Access To Medicines (ATM) Coalition, and doesn’t address the significant issues the New Zealand public has in accessing medicines.

Finance Minister Michael Cullen announced today at Parliament that government drug buying agency PHARMAC is to receive an additional $20m in funding this year, with $14m going toward hospital-based cancer treatments, and only $5.4m for other treatments.

“This is, of course, great news for cancer sufferers, but there are many New Zealanders needing access to medications for other conditions that are no better off with this Budget,” says ATM spokesman John Forman. “This increase amounts to less than 1% of PHARMAC’s total budget for community pharmaceuticals.”

ATM says New Zealand has been falling behind other OECD countries in terms of timely access to medicines for some time.

“We are clearly underperforming by comparison with Australia and other Western countries,” John Forman says. “For this Budget to make a real difference, we needed to see a significant increase in the total amount of money available for community-based medicines, not just a tiny piece of the pie.”

ATM combines the voices of 26 non-government organisations advocating for increased access to medicines in New Zealand. Members of the coalition are all disease-specific groups that provide support, information/education, health promotion or clinical services to their constituent groups.

ENDS

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