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Health professionals say Pharmac must stay

Health professionals say Pharmac must stay in its present form

Multi-national drug companies must not be able to jeopardise Pharmac’s great work say a raft of health professional groups, including the New Zealand Nurses Organisation, the Royal New Zealand College of GPs, the College of Midwives, the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists and the New Zealand Association of Optometrists.

The organisations repeated their call for the retention of Pharmac in its present form, in light of Radio New Zealand’s revelation that the 28 senators who called for better terms for multi-national drug companies in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) negotiations have received US$6.5 million from major drug companies in the last five years.

“It is appalling that United States politicians, at the behest of multi-national drug companies, could jeopardise Pharmac’s ability to buy cheaper, generic drugs which benefit hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders, as well as saving an estimated NZ$1 billion annually on the purchase of drugs,” NZNO chief executive Geoff Annals said.

“Health professional organisations are calling on the government not to sacrifice Pharmac. The health of New Zealanders and the New Zealand economy must be a priority for our TPPA negotiators,” he said.

Annals pointed to the Health Minister Tony Ryall’s announcement today of an increase in the annual pharmaceutical budget.

“The Minister makes much of the role of Pharmac in funding new medicines and says that $47.4 million will be transferred from district health board budgets to Pharmac to meet the cost of cancer drugs. The Minister says this will give Pharmac greater scope to make use of its negotiating skills and maximise public investment Let’s hope he is making those very points to Trade Minister Tim Groser who has said that he would not take Pharmac “off the table” at the TPPA negotiations,” Annals said.

“Make no mistake – if the role of Pharmac is in any way compromised through these negotiations, it will be vulnerable New Zealanders who will suffer, not US senators or multi-national drug companies.”


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