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Rationing medicines by stealth with budget announcement

Big expectations from the Government today as it increases the pressure on PHARMAC to perform with its savings model.

The procurement agency has been advised it needs to make up to $200 million in savings over the next 5 years. This could have a drastic effect on the already limited access patients have to medicines in New Zealand.

“This will push more patients to take risks in order to access modern treatments overseas. New Zealand patients will be forced to seek solutions outside of the public health sector in order to improve their health, ” says Dr. Graeme Jarvis, General Manager of Medicines New Zealand.

The budget New Zealand is allocated to publicly fund medicines has not been keeping up with inflation and population growth for the last nine years. In real terms, this constant under-investment in the medicines budget has meant that the current levels of funding have dropped by almost 50% from the levels achieved in 2007.

Today's announcement has increased pressure to spend even less when trying to access beneficial and cost-effective new medicines for New Zealand.

“The Government needs to show that this medicines rationing has no material effect on patient outcomes or our health system as a whole. The evidence that this system works is weak from a health outcomes perspective, and it doesn't have international support,” says Dr. Jarvis.

New Zealand has an extensive backlog of priority medicines sitting and waiting to be publicly funded. Some medicines on this waiting list have been experiencing ten years of delays due to funding shortfalls.

“I would expect this waiting list to grow as decisions will have to be delayed in order to make savings,” says Dr. Jarvis


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